Police have launched a massive manhunt for a student gunman who allegedly opened fire at the University of Virginia on Sunday night killing three and leaving two others seriously wounded. Police said the suspect has been identified as Christopher Darnell Jones, 22, who is still on the loose and should be considered "armed and dangerous."
Students and staff have been advised to shelter in place till Jones is tracked and arrested. In a statement sent to the university's community early Monday, University of Virginia President Jim Ryan also identified the suspect as Jones, Jr. The University of Virginia Police Department also named Jones as the suspect at large via Twitter.
Terror on Campus
Police are still looking for Jones who is thought to have started shooting in a parking garage around 10:15 p.m. on Sunday, with the search involving helicopters continuing into Monday morning. Both Ryan and the police confirmed that "multiple" law enforcement agencies are actively looking for Jones, who they described as "armed and dangerous". The university community was instructed by police to "shelter in place" in the meantime.
"UVA Alert: ACTIVE ATTACKER firearm reported in area of Culbreth Road. RUN HIDE FIGHT," the department tweeted about 10 minutes later.
Police in Charlottesville identified Jones as a black male wearing blue pants, a burgundy jacket, and red shoes. Jones is believed to have been a former football player. According to authorities, he might be operating a black SUV with the license plate TWX3580.
Condoling the death of the three people and those wounded, Ryan in a statement said on Monday, "Multiple law enforcement agencies are coordinating to find and apprehend him," he wrote, saying the suspect may be driving a black SUV with Virginia plate number TWX3580.
"As of this writing, I am heartbroken to report that the shooting has resulted in three fatalities; two additional victims were injured and are receiving medical care," Ryan said in the message.
The identities of the victims have not been released by the authorities and it is still unknown if they were staff or students.
"We are working closely with the families of the victims, and we will share additional details as soon as we are able," Ryan said. "This is a message any leader hopes to never to have to send, and I am devastated that the violence has visited the University of Virginia."
Police Still Clueless
Police are still clueless about Jones' whereabouts or the motive behind the shooting. Meanwhile, there is an atmosphere of panic inside the university campus. Ryan also announced that classes have been canceled for Monday.
"I am holding the victims, their families, and all members of the University of Virginia community in my heart today, and we will make plans to come together as a community to grieve as soon as the suspect is apprehended," he added.
Students on campus described hearing gunshots ringing out. The hunt for the culprit was still ongoing as of 6 a.m. on Monday and includes numerous police department agencies.
Lockdown has been imposed on the main campus of the University of Virginia as police claimed to be conducting a 'complete' check of the building.
"REMAIN SHELTERED IN PLACE," the department added.
In an email to UVA students, university vice president and chief student affairs officer Robyn S. Hadley advised them to "take the shelter in place commands seriously as the situation remains active' in an email to UVA's students.
"We have all received several shelter in place texts, and they are frightening. I am on grounds like many of you; I am sheltering in place and in direct touch with University leadership and UPD ... If you are not inside and safe, immediately seek safety."
Students have been asked to contact and inform their family and friends that they are safe. The University of Virginia has started a hotline for their use.