CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The University of Virginia community came together in grief Monday night as students, staff members, educators and others struggled to understand the shooting that left three football players dead and the campus heartbroken.
Nick Kalinowski, 23, a graduate student studying data science, said his emotions have run the spectrum since the bloodshed Sunday night at a parking garage on campus.
D’Sean Perry, Devin Chandler and Lavel Davis Jr. were killed. Two students were wounded and hospitalized.
“First, it was pure shock and horror," he said. "Then, it was fear because they hadn’t found the shooter yet. Now, it’s sadness and pain.”
Kalinowski was among hundreds of students and university community members, including athletes mourning their football teammates, who gathered at a candlelight vigil on the South Lawn.
The mood was somber. Students hugged. Some shed tears and seemed inconsolable. Many simply said they were stunned.
Matthew Krinn, 19, a sophomore from Chevy Chase, Maryland, said that although he has grown up aware of campus shootings, he never thought he would be directly affected.
“I was really thinking I never would be in a position to send the ‘Don’t worry, I’m OK' text," he said.
Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 22, was arrested Monday on three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun.
Gunfire was reported at a parking garage on Culbreth Road, near the school’s drama building, around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, officials said.
The shooter fled, and a manhunt was launched, prompting a shelter-in-place order that lasted until about 10:30 a.m. Monday.
Students were issued warnings to “Run Hide Fight.”
Henrico County police apprehended Jones, a former football player, just before 11 a.m. by in Richmond, about 75 miles southeast of the Charlottesville campus.
At Monday night's vigil, students placed bouquets and candles on the steps of Old Cabell Hall, where some football players openly shed tears for their fallen teammates.
Handmade signs surrounded the Homer statue. "UVA Strong," "United We Stand," they read.
Hsien Lai, 23, a student from Taiwan in his first semester at the university, said that he knew about school shootings in the U.S. but that he thought the University of Virginia campus was safe.
The shooting happened not far from where he lives, but he said he did not learn that three student-athletes had been killed until Monday morning.
“It’s then that I realized it was something real,” Lai said.
The shooting has him reconsidering whether he wants to attend graduate school in the U.S. He said he’s also rethinking the way he talks about school shootings, noting that he used to joke with his Taiwanese friends, saying he may need a bulletproof vest.
“I’m never going to make those kind of jokes. That’s something real here,” Lai said.
The student-organized vigil demonstrates the “global worldwide love” for the university, said Christa Acampora, the dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
The next move, she said, is to lift up the campus as a community.
“Few of us have any training for what’s the right thing to do, so we have to lead with our hearts and listening ears,” Acampora said. “It is clear that it is a community that will need each other.”
Vidar Hageman, 21, a junior from Warwick, New York, said he was struggling to find the appropriate words to describe what he and his beloved school are going through.
He used the words “pain” and “devastation” but said the campus will rise up.
“U.Va. is a strong community. People care about each other. They’re good people. They’re strong people,” Hageman said. “No matter how they get hurt — they will find a way to get through.”