PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — A former neighbor of Christopher Darnell Jones, Jr., who is accused of shooting five University of Virginia students, killing three, says he’s shocked to have seen who he recalls as a “sound-minded” person taken away in handcuffs after a manhunt lasting around 12 hours.
The neighbor, who used to live near Jones in Petersburg and wished to remain anonymous, says he’s still in disbelief and vividly remembers their last conversation — about how Jones was returning to UVA after taking some time off.
“This year, he was going back to school, I said ‘Man, you can do it.’ He said, ‘That’s what I’m going to do.,'” said the neighbor. “Hadn’t talked to him or seen him since, until I seen what had happened to him on the news.”
He said he’s known Jones, who referred to him as “Uncle”, for nearly four and a half years. When the two were neighbors, him and his wife would take Jones to work on occasion.
“Me and him used to talk all the time,” he said. “I’d catch him coming in from work. He seemed to be pretty sound-minded.”
On the night of Sunday, Nov. 13, Lavel Davis, Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were on a bus returning to campus from a field trip when they were shot and killed. Two other UVA students were injured in the shooting.
Jones, the suspect, was taken into custody in eastern Henrico County after a nearly 12-hour manhunt, during which UVA was on lockdown. Jones is now facing three counts of second-degree murder, among other charges.
“I was shocked,” said the neighbor, recalling when he heard the news.
Jones attended Petersburg High School and Varina High School in Henrico. At Varina, Jones was a two-time “Student of the Year” and was a member of the National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, president of the school’s Key Club and president of the Jobs for Virginia Grads Program.
“He was always a calm person, and he was looking out for his grandma,” said the neighbor. “Something had to trigger him.”
Jones had his first appearance in court Nov. 16, his next court date is scheduled for Dec. 8.