‘I still can’t believe it’: Father of UVA shooting suspect speaks

Suspect arrested near family home in Eastern Henrico.
22-year-old Christopher Danell Jones Jr. was arrested in eastern Henrico not far from he grew up after Charlottesville police say he opened fire on a bus filled
Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 7:44 PM EST
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - 22-year-old Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. was arrested in eastern Henrico not far from he was raised after Charlottesville police say he opened fire on a bus filled with the University of Virginia football players returning to grounds from a Sunday field trip.

Jones was on the run for more than 12 hours before police finally took him into custody. His father, Christopher Darnell Jones Sr. says he’s still trying to process the accusations against his son.

“I can’t believe it was him,” his father said. “I still can’t believe it now.”

Around 10 a.m. Monday, U.S. Marshalls swarmed Jones’ mother’s home with guns drawn to locate the UVA student and former Cavalier football player, but he was not at the house. At his time, it is unclear if the 22-year-old was trying to reach his family before his arrest.

His mother could be seen inside her van sobbing with her children nearby. His mother told NBC12 that he seemed normal when they spoke Sunday and was excited to celebrate his 23rd birthday on Nov. 17.

She says she attempted to call him several times when she learned of the shooting but was unable to reach him over the phone. The suspect’s father says the last time he spoke with his son was a month ago.

“He came to the house he did his laundry, we sat and talked, and he seemed like he was doing really well,” Jones Sr. said. “When we finally had a chance to talk, he said there were some people there who were giving him a hard time, but he still was upbeat, and he was positive. I don’t know what happened between then and now to cause this to happen.”

Jones Sr. said he separated from his wife when his son was still a child, but when he stopped getting along with his mother, Jones Sr. says his son moved in with him and his grandmother in Petersburg around his high school years.

“He got on the football team at Petersburg High School he excelled at that,” his father said. “He excelled at everything. He was everyone’s friend, everybody loved Chris, and he had a movie star smile he would flash.”

But his father admits that something was off when he and his son spoke last.

“He had some problems the last time I talked to him. He said some people were picking on him or whatever, he didn’t know how to handle it and I told him just go to school, don’t pay it any mind” the father said. “He was really paranoid when I talked to him about something, but he wouldn’t tell me everything. He was a very sensitive young man.”

Jones’s father says it will likely take some time before he’s able to process what happened to the victim of his son’s alleged attack. He says all he wants to do now is visit his son so he can figure out what went wrong.

“What happened? Why did it have to get this far? He could’ve called me,” his father said. “I don’t know why he didn’t call me Saturday. If he had called me Saturday, I think maybe I could have talked him out of some things, maybe, hopefully.

With his son in custody, Jones’s father says he wants to speak face-to-face with the 22-year-old son to figure out what led up to the shooting. Jones Sr. says his heart goes out to the victims’ families as they all work to process this tragedy.

“I don’t know what to say except I’m sorry on his behalf, and I apologize. He’s not a bad kid. He really isn’t,” Jones Sr. said. “I just don’t know what happened. I wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened to cause all of this.”

The 22-year-old is being held in the Henrico jail and has a video arraignment scheduled for Tuesday at Albemarle County General District Court. Jones is facing several charges, including three counts of second-degree murder.