CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — A University of Virginia student who witnessed the deadly shooting of three students and the serious injury of two more spoke with ABC News about her harrowing experience.
Ryan Lynch was part of the African-American theater class that was returning from Washington, D.C., when Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. allegedly started shooting. Lynch said she didn’t notice any strange behavior from Jones leading up to the shooting, nor was there any apparent animosity between him and the victims.
It was before 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13, when the 22-person class returned from their field trip and pulled up to Culbreth Theatre. Lynch said she was preparing to get off the bus when she suddenly heard gunfire coming from the back of the bus.
“At first I thought it was chips or, like, balloons. I was really confused,” she said. “And then after I would say the fourth gunshot, there was a like cloud of smoke that filled the bus. And after I smelled that, even though I couldn’t see anything going on in the back, I knew there was something really bad happening.”
Lynch said she then dropped to the floor and tried to cover herself in her jacket and blanket. Once covered, Lynch said she peered out of cover to try to figure out what was happening.
“The sound of the shots just kept kind of creeping up the aisle. And I saw the shooter pass me and he passed me very slowly,” Lynch said. “I thought he was going to shoot me too. And I just sat there quiet, still, didn’t say anything. And thank goodness he just passed me and went off the bus and then he shot into the air again when he got off.”
Lynch said the next thing she remembered was her teacher yelling for everyone to get off the bus. Before evacuating, Lynch and another friend attempted to provide CPR to Lavel Davis, Jr., who, according to Lynch, was lying face-flat in the aisle with gunshot wounds in his back and head.
“But then I realized that you can’t move a victim after they’ve been shot like that because we didn’t want to hurt him anymore,” she said. “So we said to him, ‘Lavel, we’re trying to help you. We’re going to get help for you. There’s nothing we can do right now but we’re going to get help for you.'”
As Lynch’s teacher called for everyone to get off the bus, she and her friend reluctantly left Davis’ side to find a safe place to shelter. They ended up hiding with other students in a theater bathroom near the lobby.
Linsey Davis and ABC News contributed to this report.