'Devastation and heartache': Virginia coach Tony Elliott, AD Carla Williams mourn deaths of 3 football players

Hours after it was confirmed that three University of Virginia football players were killed in an on-campus shooting on Sunday night, Virginia head coach Tony Elliott and athletic director Carla Williams expressed their grief in the first public statements released from the Cavaliers’ athletic department and football program.

Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D'Sean Perry were identified as the victims by university president Jim Ryan. Two others were wounded in the shooting and were hospitalized. One was listed in critical condition, the other in good condition, Ryan said Tuesday morning.

The incident occurred on a bus in an on-campus parking garage after a class trip to Washington, D.C. to see a play.

The suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones, was arrested Monday morning and charged with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in commission of a felony. Jones is a Virginia student who once was a member of the football team. He was listed on the 2018 team roster as a 5-foot-9, 195-pound freshman running back.

“I cannot find the words to express the devastation and heartache that our team is feeling today after the tragic events last night that resulted in the deaths of Lavel, D’Sean and Devin, and the others who were injured,” Elliott, UVA's first-year coach, said in a statement.

“These were incredible young men with huge aspirations and extremely bright futures. Our hearts ache for their families, their classmates and their friends. These precious young men were called away too soon. We are all fortunate to have them be a part of our lives. They touched us, inspired us and worked incredibly hard as representatives of our program, university and community. Rest in peace, young men.”

Williams described Chandler, Davis and Perry as “talented and bright young men.”

“As a mother of three children, I ache for the parents and family members. We lost three talented and bright young men,” Williams said. “We will never see what their impact on the world would have been, but we will never forget their impact on us. I miss Lavel, D’Sean and Devin. I pray for peace, comfort and hope for their parents and loved ones. For their teammates, coaches and friends, I pray for strength and a peace that surpasses all understanding.”

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA - NOVEMBER 14: Flowers left outside Scott Stadium at a makeshift memorial for three University of Virginia football players killed during an overnight shooting at the university on November 14, 2022 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The suspect in the shooting, Christopher Jones, was apprehended this morning following the shooting where 3 people were killed and 2 others were wounded on the grounds of the University of Virginia yesterday evening.    (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA - NOVEMBER 14: Flowers left outside Scott Stadium at a makeshift memorial for three University of Virginia football players killed during an overnight shooting. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) (Win McNamee via Getty Images)

Devin Chandler remembered for 'infectious' personality

Chandler was a junior wide receiver from Huntersville, North Carolina, who transferred to Virginia after beginning his college football career at Wisconsin. Chandler played in 10 games over two seasons at Wisconsin before transferring to Virginia in the offseason.

Wisconsin interim head coach Jim Leonhard said that Chandler “had a lasting impact” on his Wisconsin teammates, even after he left Madison.

“His personality was infectious and he was a joy to be around. Our team is hurting for him and his family,” Leonhard said.

Lavel Davis Jr. had passion for social justice

Davis was a junior wide receiver from Dorchester, South Carolina, who led the ACC in yards per reception (25.8) as a freshman in 2020 when he caught 20 passes for 515 yards and five touchdowns. Davis missed the 2021 season with an injury but returned to the field this season, catching 16 passes for 371 yards and two touchdowns.

Davis was described as “kind” and “humble” by his cousin Sean Lampkin, a coach at Newberry College.

Davis was also passionate about social justice causes, particularly on Virginia’s campus.

Jack Hamilton, an associate professor of media studies and American studies at Virginia, taught Chandler and Davis. Hamilton, in a thread on Twitter, said Chandler was “impossible not to like.”

“He was an unbelievably nice person, always with a huge smile, really gregarious and funny. One of those people who's just impossible not to like. It is so sad and enraging that he is gone,” Hamilton wrote.

Hamilton said Davis was beloved by his classmates — both athletes and non-athletes.

“One thing that struck me about [Davis] was how much his classmates liked him and vice versa,” Hamilton wrote. “In my experience star athletes often tend to hang out with other athletes (understandable, given the time commitment) but he seemed to go out of his way to make friends with non-athletes.”

Former coach on D'Sean Perry: 'every and anything you want in a student, player'

Perry was a junior linebacker from Miami who played in 15 games over the past three seasons. Justin Cardoza, a coach at Gulliver Prep, Perry’s high school, said Perry was a "light” and “everything you [would] want in a student, player, friend or family member.”

Virginia has a home game scheduled with Coastal Carolina on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. It’s unclear if that game will still be played as intended.

The Virginia men’s basketball’s game vs. Northern Iowa scheduled for Monday night was canceled.