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Father of UVa shooting suspect says son seemed ‘paranoid,’ told him people were ‘picking on him’

Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 22, was arrested more than 12 hours after the shooting Sunday night on the University of Virginia campus, which killed three and injured two.

The father of the student suspect arrested Monday in connection with a shooting that killed three University of Virginia football players said that he is in shock over the violence and that his son recently told him some people were “picking on him.”

Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 22, was arrested just before 11 a.m. Monday in Henrico County, about 75 miles from the campus in Charlottesville, where gunfire erupted around 10:30 p.m. Sunday. 

Jones was on the run for more than 12 hours before he was taken into custody on three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.

The news of the deadly shooting was a shock for the suspect's parents.

His father, Christopher Darnell Jones Sr., told NBC affiliate WWBT of Richmond: “I can’t believe it was him. I still can’t believe it now.”

He said he last talked to his son a month ago. 

“He came to the house, and he did his laundry. We sat and talked, and he seemed like he was doing really well,” Jones told WWBT.

"When we finally had a chance to talk, he said there were some people there who were giving him a hard time, but he still was upbeat and he was positive. I don’t know what happened between then and now to cause this to happen,” he said.

He said his son mentioned people were "picking on him" but didn't go into details.

“He had some problems the last time I talked to him. He said some people were picking on him or whatever. He didn’t know how to handle it. I just told him, 'Go to school, don’t pay them no mind,'" Jones said. “He was really paranoid when I talked to him about something, but he wouldn’t tell me everything. He was a very sensitive young man.”

Jones Jr. moved in with his father and his grandmother in Petersburg in high school after Jones Sr. separated from his wife, he said.

Jones Jr.'s mother, who is identified in public records as Margo Ellis, said in a phone call Monday that her son has lived with his grandmother since he was 16. She said she didn't have contact with him after the shooting and didn't know what might have contributed to it.

Jones Sr. said: “What happened? Why did it have to get this far? He could’ve called me. I don’t know why he didn’t call me Saturday. If he had called me Saturday, I think maybe I could have talked him out of some things, maybe, hopefully."

Now he wants to speak face to face with his son and figure out what led to the shooting. 

He apologized to the victims on his son's behalf.

“I just don’t know what happened. I wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened to cause all of this,” he said.

Three U.Va. football players were killed in the shooting, which occurred on a school bus returning from a field trip to see a play in Washington on Sunday night.

They were identified as D'Sean Perry, a fourth-year student from Miami; Devin Chandler, a second-year student from Virginia Beach; and Lavel Davis Jr., a third-year student from South Carolina. 

Two other people were injured. University President Jim Ryan said that one was in critical condition and that the other was in good condition as of Monday.

CORRECTION (Nov. 15, 2022, 2:29 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the NBC affiliate of Richmond, Virginia. It is WWBT, not WBBT.