Responding to the threat of an on-campus shooting was a moment University of Virginia students had prepared for since their first years of elementary school. Still, the emotional trauma of an attack that killed three members of the school’s football team left students shaken and grasping to understand, reports the Associated Press. “This will probably affect our campus for a very, very long time,” said Shannon Lake, a third-year student from Crozet, Va. For 12 hours, she hid with friends and other students in a storage closet, while authorities searched into Monday morning for the suspect before he was taken into custody. When Lake and the others heard someone might be right outside the business school building, they decided to go into the closet, turn off the lights and barricade the door. “That was probably the most terrifying moment because it became more real to us, and reminded us of those practice school lockdowns as children. And it was just kind of a surreal moment where ... I don’t think any of us were really processing what was going on,” she said.
Police charged student Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 22, with three counts of second-degree murder. The three victims were killed as a charter bus full of students returned from seeing a play in Washington, D.C. Two other students were wounded. University Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. said the suspect had once been on the football team, but had not been part of the team for at least a year. The university website listed Jones as a team member during the 2018 season and said he did not play in any games. University President Jim Ryan said authorities did not have a “full understanding” of the motive or circumstances surrounding the shooting. Police conducted a building-by-building search of the campus while students sheltered in place before the lockdown order was lifted late Monday morning. Charlotte Goeb, a student who lives in an apartment about a half-mile away from the shooting scene, immediately checked her doors and shut off the lights after getting an alert from the school. “I’m having a hard time coming to terms that this was happening,” she said. “Even though you spend all of your upbringing knowing this can happen.” Ellie Wilkie, a fourth-year student, was about to leave her room on the university’s historic Lawn at the center of campus when her group texts with friends began spreading of the shooting. Wilkie did not hide right away, “I think our generation has been so habituated to these being drills and this being commonplace that I didn’t even think it was all that serious until I got an email that said, ‘Run. Hide. Fight,’ all caps,” she said.