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Reactions to the University of Virginia Shooting: “It’s Heartbreaking”

Photo courtesy of UVA Football Twitter.

The three University of Virginia (UVA) football players shot and killed were laid to rest the weekend before Thanksgiving. Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis, Jr. and D’Sean Perry were remembered at the memorial service.

The UVA shooting took place Nov. 13 on a bus after a school field trip to Washington, D.C. The suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., killed three and injured two additional students. Junior running back Mike Hollins and sophomore Marlee Morgan have been released from the hospital as of Nov. 21.

Jones was a member of the UVA football team in 2018. The motives for the shooting are still unknown but the incident was allegedly a targeted attack, according to prosecutors in court. Jones was charged with three counts of second-degree murder.

The day after the shooting, Virginia football head coach Tony Elliott said, “I cannot find words to express the devastation and heartache that our team is feeling today after the tragic events last night.”

The memorial service was held Nov. 19. On this day, families and loved ones did not discuss the way the victims died, but instead reflected on the individuals they were.

The deaths of Chandler, Davis and Perry highlight a disturbing reality about gun violence in the United States. According to CNN, there have been at least 607 mass shootings in 2022 through Nov. 22.

UVA alumni shared their reactions to the shooting and the plight of gun violence in America.

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Ryan Coleman-Ferebee graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences in 2000. When asked about the situation, Coleman-Ferebee said, “I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be a member of that team, knowing you could’ve been someone who was on that bus, unaware that someone wanted to lash out against you. It’s still personal as a proud graduate of UVA. It just reminds you that nowhere is safe. There is no place that is immune to the ills of gun violence.”

Janet Gilmore, a 2000 English graduate, recalled her initial emotions as well.

“It’s just heartbreaking to me,” Gilmore said. “I love this school so much. I was just down there for Homecoming, and it brought back all the great memories I had. Now, the students I ran into [while I was at Homecoming] are afraid to be there. It became this overwhelming sadness when I think about the boys that lost their lives.”

NFL players have paid tribute to the players. The Washington Commanders wore helmets with decals of the football players’ jersey numbers in their game against the Houston Texans. Commanders head coach Ron Rivera wore a “Virginia Cavaliers” shirt.

Kansas City Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill, who played football at Virginia from 2015 to 2018, paid tribute to the victims as well. Thornhill wore custom-designed cleats and started a fundraiser for the families of those affected.

Steve Wyche, NFL analyst and Howard alumnus, says the shooting was “tragic.”

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“Any time a human life is taken with gun violence is horrible,” Wyche said. “We keep seeing these mass shootings, and you try not to get numb to it because it’s devastating. These were young men that had a lot of life to live, and the alleged killer was a young man as well. There was an opportunity for all of them to positively contribute to society, and now that’s cut short across the board. It’s so sad.”

Copy edited by Nhandi Long-Shipman 

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