UVIABJ Staff Reporter- WJS
(STT-November 2022) The University of Virginia (UVA) has been in the national headlines recently, and not in a good way.
As the 2022 fall semester came to a close, a traumatic event happened at UVA when three student-athletes were killed, and two other people were shot and injured. The incident took place on a school bus, loaded with UVA football players, on the night of November 13, 2022, after a dinner & movie field trip.
A 22-year-old current honors student and former walk-on football player, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., allegedly committed this heinous crime.
According to UVA Police Chief Tim Long, the shooting suspect now faces three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony.
Most of the news coverage has been focused on the suspect, but his friends, family, and supporters do not believe enough attention has been on the events leading to this crime. Jones was once known as a great student with good grades. Though there were occasional fist-fights in high school, no real sign of serious issues was noted.
The question many others ask is, “What caused this former Honors student to ‘snap and commit such a violent act?”
The question many others ask is, “What caused this former Honors student to snap and commit such a violent act?” Members of the family said that Jones was being hazed and bullied.
Their claims are being dismissed because officials claim the supporters are unable to supply real evidence. Rumors extend to issues that Jones suffered sexual, physical, and mental abuse by football players, and apparently, no action was taken on his behalf.
According to Ryan Lynch, an eyewitness to the shooting, Jones yelled, “You guys are always messing with me,” before targeting the victims and opening fire. No additional information is given about the motives behind Jones’s rage.
If this is the case, the portrayals of Jones from certain media outlets are skewed and unjustified. Former teammates and friends spoke about Jones’ personality and said he got along with everyone and was always willing to help others. Former teammate, Lundy Jones, and current UVA employee said, “This is not the Chris we know.”
Another high school friend and barber, Vashaun Hill, recalled that Jones once came to his shop to replace some old, worn clippers with brand-new ones. “Chris was a good dude at heart,” Hill stated, He echoed the sentiments of friends and family who have said, “It’s just hard to try to piece all this together, knowing the Chris we know.”
According to a Fox online news article, Jones’ father, Christopher Jones, Sr. claimed, that his son “excelled at everything. He was everyone’s friend, everybody loved Chris, and he had a movie star smile he would flash.”
“He was everyone’s friend, everybody loved Chris…” Christopher Jones, Sr., father
In a separate interview Jones’ father offered another perspective about his son and noted, “He had some problems the last time I talked to him…said some people were picking on him or whatever, he didn’t know how to handle it.” Jones also admitted that his son “was really paranoid… but he wouldn’t tell me everything. He was a very sensitive young man.”
Not surprisingly, the media highlighted that Chris was described by his father as “paranoid.” The media continued to paint Jones as a hardened criminal and felon before the shooting incident, in part, because of an alleged 2021 weapons violation.
Most important, reporters are not giving the school the scrutiny they possibly deserve. This may be because of the size and status of the UVA football team.
“It’s important to know everything that led to slayings of UVA football players,” Bob Lewis of the Virginia Mercury, observed, “There’s been little authoritative or detailed reporting about the circumstances that allegedly drove the accused, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., to such anger.“
Considerable focus has been on the suspect, victims, and survivors, but relatively little coverage exists about the coaching staff, counselors, and other key players in this incident. As an investigation continues, what questions, if any, are being directed at the UVA administration?
Specifically, what priorities were given to the reported hazing incident and people who were ‘messing with him?’
Specifically, what priorities were given to the reported hazing incident and people who were ‘messing with him?’ Were the perpetrators of the hazing, the young men, targeted on the bus? What exactly were the nature and extent of the abuses?
The University has yet to offer substantial comments on the hazing and/or bullying allegations.
A very small minority, who want to uncover the truth behind Jones’ motives, urge the media to delve more deeply into the reasons for his misplaced rage. They suspect that there is more to the story than what is being reported.
The football coaching staff, counselors, and even university officials may be responsible for failures to address the mental health problems of this young student who may have been victimized by a powerful team of players. Football players.
...this young student, who may have been victimized by a powerful team of players. Football players.
Lewis admits that hazing indignities or injuries are commonplace on football teams and relates his personal experiences of physical and mental torment and abuse. Admittedly, should hazing and bullying allegations about UVA football players surface and prove to be true, will the narrative that engulfs Chris Jones be reviewed and possibly altered?
This would inevitably launch an investigation into the school’s football program, which incidentally happened to make $43 million in 2021. That’s a big chunk of money.
According to USA News Best Colleges, UVA is one of the most prestigious schools in the country and ranks 25 out of 443 national universities.
Initially, it was reported that Jones went to administration to complain that he was being hazed. Apparently, the school took little to no action and the case file was dropped. However, results surrounding the hazing report have changed, several times.
After printing that Jones filed a complaint, the explanation for no investigation was that “witnesses refused to cooperate.” A day later, readers were told that Jones dropped the charges and was the one who refused to cooperate with officials.
The latest information for public consumption is that Jones was the perpetrator and not the victim of a hazing incident. By Nov 14, 2022, news spread in local media and national papers like the New York Post that Jones was involved in a ‘prior criminal incident involving a concealed weapon.’ He was then accused of hazing.
On the day following the shooting, Longo began spreading the narrative that Jones was under investigation by the University Threat Assessment for comments he supposedly made about being in possession of a concealed weapon. The comments allegedly were told to a person off-campus who was “unaffiliated with UVA.”
Longo said, however, that the person who made the complaint against Jones “never saw a gun, and had noted that the comment wasn’t made as a threat.” Jones’ roommates told UVA they denied the allegations and claimed to have not seen him with a weapon.
While the story provided sensational headlines and received national attention, it was, in fact, ‘fake news.’
Summing up this profile of Chris Jones, relative to charges of hazing and threats, the narrative was inaccurate. While the story provided sensational headlines and received national attention, it was, in fact, ‘fake news.’ Coverage served the purpose, however, of reinforcing the belief that Jones’ is a dangerous, crazed killer who lost control of his senses and went on a wild, unprovoked rampage.
Imagine if information got out that the UVA knew about the bullying and hazing against Jones, prior to this shooting? It would not just look bad on the football team, but on the University as a whole. Attempts to ignore these complaints and a possible cover-up the abuse could stir public outcry, ignite criminal investigations, and bring about legal filings from mental health groups and survivors of abuse.
While this situation is very tragic and sad, a deliberate review of the subjective coverage and little to no coverage of background information lends to skepticism about news coverage of this incident.
Readers may get the sense that the University is hiding something. Questions remain unanswered as a precarious trial lies ahead for Jones. His fate, and life, hinge on uncovering the truth behind his rage.
What, if anything, is the college hiding and why are they hiding it? Maybe it is to protect the reputations of the victims or maybe it is to protect the athletic department, or maybe it is to protect the image of the school and the ‘cash cow’ of the university.
What, if anything, is the college hiding and why are they hiding it?
Whatever the case, people should know the truth and want to know the truth. Yes, Jones was wrong, extremely wrong, for taking the innocent lives of the three UVA football players. But doesn’t the media have a responsibility to examine his loss of innocence, if indeed abuse was involved? The general public still has not heard his side of the story. Jones was ordered to return to court on Dec. 8 at 9:30 a.m. to enter a plea to the charges against him.
The public will watch. Perhaps the news media will do their jobs and report on events that led to shootings on that fateful night.
People just want clarification of what really caused this traumatic event to occur.