Alleged Virginia gunman had purchased stolen handgun for 'protection'

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- When alleged University of Virginia gunman Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. was pulled over by police in Chesterfield, Virginia, on Feb. 26, 2021, officers discovered he had a stolen handgun under his shirt in his waistband, according to an incident report obtained by ESPN on Thursday.

When an officer asked Jones whether the gun was his, he admitted it was and said he had purchased it for $500 "from a guy at the [7-Eleven]." When the officer asked Jones whether he knew the gun was stolen, he replied, "No, but I thought it was sketchy to buy it," according to the report.

Jones told the officer that "he wanted to have protection for his family because he lost two of his brothers." The report said officers seized marijuana from the Mazda6 that Jones was driving, along with a Smith & Wesson 9 mm handgun and 15 9 mm cartridges.

On June 10, 2021, Jones was convicted on a misdemeanor charge of having a concealed weapon in Chesterfield General Court. A judge fined him $100 and gave him a 12-month suspended sentence. The judge also issued a three-year good behavior bond in that case, according to court records obtained by ESPN, and the judge ordered Jones to forfeit the firearm.

At the time of that arrest, Jones also had outstanding warrants on misdemeanor hit-and-run property damage and reckless driving charges in Petersburg, Virginia. He was convicted of those charges on Oct. 28, 2021, and that judge also issued a 12-month suspended sentence on each of those charges.

Jones, 22, is accused of shooting and killing junior receivers Lavel Davis Jr. and Devin Chandler and junior defensive end/linebacker D'Sean Perry on a charter bus Sunday night. Running back Mike Hollins is hospitalized after being shot in the back. A fifth person on the bus, Virginia student Marlee Morgan, was also shot and is in good condition.

Prosecutors charged Jones with three felony charges of second-degree murder and firearm use in the commission of a felony, as well as two counts of malicious wounding and additional gun-related charges related to shooting Hollins and Morgan. He is being held without bail in a Charlottesville jail.

Virginia officials said they became aware of Jones' conviction on the misdemeanor concealed weapon charge while conducting their own investigation into a hazing incident. On Sept. 15, a student alleged that Jones made a comment to him about having a gun.

"The reporting party did not see Mr. Jones in possession of a gun," a Virginia spokesperson said in a statement. "The comment about owning a gun was not made in conjunction with a threat. In the course of their investigation, University officials spoke with Mr. Jones' roommate, [who] gave no indication of the presence of any weapons."

After school officials became aware that Jones had previously been tried and convicted of the misdemeanor weapons charge, they attempted to contact him about the allegations of having a gun and the earlier incident. "Throughout the investigation, Mr. Jones repeatedly refused to cooperate with University officials who were seeking additional information about the claims that he had a firearm and about his failure to disclose the previous misdemeanor conviction," according to the spokesperson's statement.

On Wednesday night, University of Virginia president Jim Ryan said the school will have an external review of its interactions with Jones.

"The criminal investigation is underway, and we are also inviting an external review with respect to the university's interactions with the suspect and whether we did all we could to prevent or avoid this tragedy," Ryan said. "This will likely take a while, but we will share and act upon what we ultimately learn. It's possible and perhaps likely that we will never find one single thing that will explain this. It may also be that we never thoroughly understand why this happened, but what we learn, we will share."

Jones was a member of the football team for one semester during the 2018 season, a walk-on, according to athletic director Carla Williams.

ESPN reporter Paula Lavigne contributed to this report.