S5 Special Episode. UVA, Wounded and Strong

A community grieves, reflects, unites.

After a night of terror and 12 hours of lockdown, students at the University of Virginia gather in front of Cabell Hall, at the heart of campus, for a silent vigil. The young man charged in the attack that left three dead and two wounded had come to the attention of university officials for threatening behavior two months earlier. A possible motive remains unknown.

Photograph by Ézé Amos

Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry.

Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry were returning from a field trip with their classmates when their lives were cut short. The gunman who killed them has been identified as another student on the trip. Our hosts and producers sit down together to mourn and make sense of yet another tragedy too close to home. And they ask: Where do we go from here — as a school, as a town, as a society?

CNN has these profiles of the slain victims. All were football players. Chandler, of Virginia Beach, is described as a “‘big kid’ who loved to smile, sing and dance.” Perry, from Miami, was “an amazing studio artist,” one of his friends told the network. And Davis, of Ridgeville, S.C., tweeted last year that he liked Shakespeare, the Bible and movies from the 1990s; at 6-foot-7-inches, he was among the best receivers for the Cavaliers.

About us

Will Hitchcock is the William W. Corcoran Professor of History at the University of Virginia. His work focuses on global history during the era of the two world wars and Cold War. Will has authored many books, including a New York Times bestseller, The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s, and is currently writing about President Franklin Roosevelt and the mid-century struggle against European fascism. Follow him on Twitter @WillHitchUVA.

Siva Vaidhyanathan is the Robertson Professor of Modern Media Studies and the director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia. He writes frequently for the Guardian and Wired, and is the author, most recently, of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy. Siva has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and in several documentaries, including Terms and Conditions May Apply, a 2013 film about corporate and government surveillance of private data. Follow him on Twitter @sivavaid.

Robert Armengol is an anthropologist and journalist with two decades of experience in immersive fieldwork, print and radio documentary, and teaching in higher education. The ethnographic research at the core of his forthcoming book shows how ordinary Cubans draw on elements of socialist logic to energize their survival strategies and cope with an authoritarian state. For a preview of his argument, download his award-winning contribution to Cuba in Transition. Armengol is our show’s producer. Follow him on Twitter @robertoarmengol, where he recently put the Nov. 13 shooting at UVA in a broader context.

Rebecca Barry is our assistant producer, and also works on other podcast projects. She is pursuing an M.A. in English at the University of Virginia, with a concentration in teaching. Her research considers the interplay among science fiction, speculative fiction and Afrofuturism. Before coming to UVA, Rebecca taught English, history, theater and journalism over the course of seven years at schools in Minnesota, Shanghai, Brussels and Connecticut. She holds a B.A. in English from St. Olaf College.

This episode was released on Nov. 23, 2022.

What we’re seeing

Over the past two weeks, we’ve been seeing a lot of grief — and love — bring our community closer together. Here are a few photographs from our good friend Ézé Amos, documenting the shock and heartache.

On UVA’s Corner — a commercial strip adjacent to the main campus — the mood has been somber.

UVA Police Chief Timothy Longo receives word — during a press conference — that Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. is in custody, after a manhunt that went on through the night.

Flowers and candles adorn impromptu memorials to the victims.

What we’re reading

From around the web

The Washington Post reconstructed from witness accounts the harrowing moments on the bus that students and one professor went through late on Nov. 13.

Jones was a walk-on football player for a season in 2018. He did not overlap on the team with the shooting victims.

A lot of questions surround the suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., who is charged with three counts of second-degree murder. After the shooting, authorities found a semiautomatic rifle, a handgun and bullets in his campus dorm room. Friends told USA Today this wasn’t the young man they knew.

Four years ago, Jones was featured in a profile from the Richmond Times-Dispatch as a promising local high-school graduate. This September, he came to the attention of UVA’s threat assessment team after telling another student he had a gun. University officials later warned Jones of impending disciplinary action because “he repeatedly refused to cooperate” with their investigation.

Another campus was shattered by violence this month — the University of Idaho’s. Four students were found stabbed to death in their off-campus home on Nov. 12, and investigators still have few leads in the case.

Mass killings have claimed 206 lives in the United States this year so far.

Not more than two weeks after these tragedies, we saw two more mass shootings in America. Six people were killed at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Va., on the same day this episode was released. Three days earlier, a shooter opened fire at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo., killing five people and injuring 17 before being subdued by patrons.

According to a joint database maintained by the Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University, there have been 40 mass killings in the United States in 2022.

You may want to listen to an episode we did last season, on systemic gun violence and the real history of the Second Amendment, with guest Carol Anderson.

A transcript of this episode will be available soon.

Heard on the show

No theme music this time. But we did close the show with a tender tune by the generous Chris Zabriskie, of Brooklyn, N.Y. It's the title track off his 2009 album I Am a Man Who Will Fight for Your Honor.

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