Details emerge about UVA shooting suspect’s prior charges, gun purchase history

In 2018 and 2021, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. attempted to buy two firearms from Dances Sporting Goods
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 5:43 PM EST
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - New details are emerging about Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., the man accused of shooting and killing three UVA football players and injuring two others on a bus Sunday evening.

On Wednesday morning, Jones Jr. had his first court appearance in Albemarle General District Court, where new details emerged about the shooting on UVA Grounds.

During the court hearing, details about his prior convictions were also discussed, including a concealed weapons misdemeanor from Chesterfield in 2021.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Chesterfield County Police Department told NBC12 a car was stopped in the area of Boisseau Street and Third Avenue because its registration did not come back on file.

“During the stop, the driver of the vehicle, Christopher D. Jones Jr., was found to be in possession of a concealed handgun without a permit,” wrote CCPD spokesperson Elizabeth Caroon.

During this interaction, officers also found Jones was wanted on two outstanding charges from Petersburg. Jones was taken into custody for the two outstanding warrants and charged with a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

Court documents reveal the charges in Petersburg stem from a hit-and-run crash, where Jones failed to stop at the scene of an accident on Aug. 9, 2020.

In both cases from Chesterfield and Petersburg, court documents show Jones had his 12-month sentences for each charge suspended and had to pay fines.

“The existence of any prior misconduct, especially the misconduct that’s been reported, has really nothing to do with guilt or innocence, the merits of the accusation,” said NBC12 Legal Analyst Steve Benjamin.

Benjamin said if prior misconducts are discussed, it would be if there’s a request for a pre-trial release.

“Right now, he’s being held without bond, and if his attorney were to seek release, then any prior criminal history would be one of the relevant factors towards a determination of whether he represented a danger to the community or a flight risk,” he said.

NBC12 is also learning Jones Jr. purchased two firearms from Dances Sporting Goods in Colonial Heights, according to the owner of the store, Marlon Dance.

Statement from Dances Sporting Goods Owner Marlon Dance.
Statement from Dances Sporting Goods Owner Marlon Dance.(Source; Dances Sporting Goods | Dances Sporting Goods)

In his statement, Dance said Jones Jr. purchased a Glock, model 45, 9mm pistol with an additional magazine on July 8, 2022. Months before this purchase, Dance said Jones Jr. bought a Rugger, model AR-556, 5.56 caliber rifle on Feb. 19, 2022. In his statement, Dance said there was “nothing noteworthy about these purchases.”

Before these purchases, Dance said Jones Jr. attempted to buy firearms back in 2018 and 2021.

On Dec. 31, 2018, Dance said Jones Jr. tried to purchase a handgun but was under the age of 21. Roughly two and a half years later, on July 8, 2021, Jones Jr. attempted to buy an S&W model M&P15-22 .22 caliber rifle but failed the background check.

Dance said Jones Jr. did not get any firearms from these attempted purchases, which were forwarded to Virginia State Police for further action.

“We will continue to assist law enforcement as they attempt to make sense of this terrible tragedy, and we pray for the victims of this tragedy,” said Marlon Dance.

A spokesperson for Virginia State Police sent NBC12 the following statement:

“Virginia State Police has an active investigation into an attempted purchase of a firearm on July 8, 2021, from a federally licensed gun dealer in the City of Colonial Heights, Va. The Virginia State Police Firearms Transaction Center denied Jones’ request based on a pending charge. The pending charge was reduced to a misdemeanor by the court in October 2021, thereby removing the prohibition against future purchases.”

Throughout the investigation, Jones repeatedly refused to cooperate with university officials looking for additional information about the claims that he had a firearm about his failure to disclose the previous misdemeanor conviction.

Accordingly, on Oct. 27, Student Affairs decided to escalate his case for disciplinary action, but school officials admitted the report was never submitted to the University Judiciary Committee.

A status hearing for Jones has been set for Dec. 8 at 9:30 a.m.