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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) throws a pass during an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Houston, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Suspect in custody, charged with murder after 3 football players killed on campus

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A man suspected of killing three people and injuring two others in a shooting on the campus of the University of Virginia on Sunday night was captured Monday morning, authorities announced at a news conference.

Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. has been charged with shooting three members of the University of Virginia football team and two others as students returned on a charter bus from a field trip, said university Police Chief Timothy J. Longo. The motive for the shooting remains under investigation, and officials did not immediately release information about where Jones was found.

Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry were fatally shot, said James E. Ryan, president of U-Va. One of the surviving victims was in critical condition and the other was in good condition at a hospital on Monday, Ryan said. Those victims were not identified at the news conference, but one injured victim’s father identified his son to The Washington Post.

“This is an unimaginably sad day for our community,” Ryan told reporters. “My heart is broken for the victims and their families.”

Longo said university police were called to a campus parking garage around 10:16 p.m. Officers found the bodies of Davis and Perry on a charter bus that had returned from a field trip in Washington, D.C., for a play. Longo didn’t say where Chandler was found, but said he was transferred to a hospital, where he died.

Jones has been charged with three counts each of second-degree murder and committing a felony with a firearm.

Jones was being investigated by the school for claiming he owned a gun and had been convicted of a concealed-weapons violation in a separate incident last year, university officials said Monday night.

In an interview with The Washington Post Monday, Michael Hollins Sr. said his son, Michael Hollins Jr., was one of the students injured late Sunday in the campus shooting. His son, 21, and the shooter knew each other because they were football teammates. Hollins is a junior running back for U-VA. The suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., played football his freshman year.

Hollins Sr., said he was at work in Fairfax, Virginia, as a city bus inspector, when just before midnight he got an urgent call that his son had been a victim in the shooting.

Hollins hopped in his car and sped to Charlottesville, he said, arriving just before 2 a.m. Monday. His son had been shot in the back, the bullet lodged in his stomach. In the interview, Hollins said his son was in “stable” condition Monday morning and is currently intubated. He said his son, laying in the hospital bed, recognized his voice and squeezed his hand as he stood next to him.

“The doctors said he’s going to recover,” Hollins, Sr., said. “They said because of his age and physical condition, he’s doing exceptionally well.”

Hollins said his son and other University of Virginia students were in Washington on Sunday as part of a class field trip. Hollins said officials told him the alleged shooter carried a gun on the field trip on the bus with the other students and when they returned to campus, the shooter began firing at his classmates on the bus.

“He waited until they all got back to Charlottesville and he just shot up the bus,” Hollins said.

Hollins said his son is expected to graduate next month with a degree in entrepreneurship and African American history, but was expected to continue to play football as he worked on obtaining his master’s degree at the school.

Jones, according to a U-Va. sports website, was a freshman on the football team in 2018 but did not appear in any games. He had previously played linebacker and running back at Petersburg High School in Virginia. Before that, he spent three years at Varina High School, where he was an accomplished player.

The report of the shootings startled students and others on campus as the weekend was winding down.

“The second we all got that message that there was an active shooter, my phone flooded with messages,” said Eva Surovell, 21, of Alexandria, Virginia, who is editor in chief of the Cavalier Daily student newspaper. “People are genuinely scared.”

As of 2 a.m. Monday, Surovell said she was sheltering in her room on the university’s famed Lawn. She said she had been in touch with her mom and her sister at James Madison University to reassure them. “You just don’t really think something could happen like this to your community until it does.”

Danielle Werchowsky of Arlington, whose son is a student at U-Va., said: “UVA parents are glued to our social media right now. … Parents are all on edge.” She said she urged her son in a phone call to turn off the lights in his apartment and stay away from windows.

Center for Anti-Racism opens at Temple University

Shortly after George Floyd’s death in May 2020, Molefi K. Asante, Temple University professor of African American studies and several others began discussions about creating a Center for Anti-Racism.

The idea was supported by administrators, faculty and students and community members who marched in the street, as the nation came to face to face with a reckoning about racial inequity and injustice.

On Monday, Temple celebrated the grand opening of the Center for Anti-Racism for Africology & African and American Student at Mazur Hall on campus.

More than 200 people packed into the Room 140 for the event.

“The American nation was born with two birth defects, one was the genocide of its indigenous people and other was the enslavement of the African people,” Asante said. “This center offers an incredible advance at Temple.”

According to Asante, several members of the Temple family, held weekly Zoom meetings having very intense discussions, in order to make the idea come to fruition.

The center will bring together Temple’s researchers, practitioners and expertise to explain and solve problems of racial inequity and injustice. Construction of the center was made possible by a $1.3 million state grant, secured by state Sen. Sharif Street, D-3rd District, and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D. 181st District.

Among the dignitaries present included Jason Wingard, president of Temple University; former Temple president Richard M. Englert, Greg Mandel, Temple provost; Valerie Harrison, vice president, diversity, equity and inclusion; Kimmika Williams Witherspoon, associate professor, theater, film and media arts; and Timothy N. Welbeck, Esq., Temple professor of instruction, who will also serve as director of the center. Street and Kenyatta also attended.

In his address, Wingard said the Center for Anti-Racism will connect the community of North Philadelphia with Temple students, faculty and administration.

“The center as you know is all about supporting cutting edge scholarship, it’s about fortifying the public’s understanding of racism and of course it will implement initiatives designed to mitigate the impact of racism in our communities,” Wingard said. “We are so proud to be here today in this moment. On behalf of the university, I want to express our deep commitment to supporting and sustaining the center’s mission. This event is a powerful representation of what it means to be community.”

Temple, which has about 36,000 students, was founded with the mission to educate the underserved and neglected students in the city and elsewhere.

Street urged people who are not oppressed to speak out against racism and other forms of bigotry.

“It is not just the responsibility of the oppressed to speak out against their oppression,” Street said.

Welbeck cited the case of Breonna Taylor of Louisville, Ky., who was killed in 2020 by police in a botched raid based on false information, as part of a catalyst that made the center a reality.

“Breonna Taylor was a super hero, a first responder risking her life to save others during the pandemic,” Welbeck said. “She was killed in her sleep. I say her name because her death along with the deaths of others spawned a movement, that created a moment that lead to this day.”





Jeff Brown set to announce run for mayor

Supermarket owner Jeff Brown is set to announce his intention to run in the 2023 mayoral election later this week.

Brown, who has long been linked to the upcoming mayoral race, will be holding a news conference at First District Plaza on Wednesday where he is expected to announce his candidacy.

Per the news release, Brown will be joined by “Community and Civic Leaders” as well as “Labor Leaders” and “Faith Leaders” at his announcement.

Brown is set to become the first nongovernment-affiliated contender to join what is expected to become a contentious mayoral contest.

Brown is the CEO/president of Brown’s Super Stores, as well as the owner of a number of ShopRite and Fresh Grocer stores throughout Philadelphia.

Brown had previously made political waves during Mayor Jim Kenney’s first term, when he spoke out in opposition to the administration’s soda tax. He has since become relatively outspoken on social media, often offering his perspective on current events and public issues.

Brown is expected to have deep pockets for his potential run with his current business holdings. In addition, BILLY PENN reports that a political action committee with ties to Brown, Philly Progress PAC, accrued $934,000 last year, although the group has so far denied any involvement with Brown’s campaign.

Kyle Anderson, a member of the communications team for Brown’s campaign, said he believes that Brown has a “really critical, urgent vision for the city of Philadelphia and one that is desperately needed.”

“It is about being respectful and responsive to the people of Philadelphia. It’s about delivering quality services that the people of Philadelphia deserve. It’s about ensuring public safety and addressing the issue of gun violence, which is running rampant in the city of Philadelphia. And it’s about fresh ideas that have seemed to have eluded the political establishment over the last several years,” said Anderson.

Anderson added that in his opinion, Brown has the ability to bring a fresh perspective “that has not necessarily been mired in traditional government positions and roles” to the mayoral race.

“I think he brings a history of success in running large organizations, but then also in the work he’s done around incubating minority businesses, and the work he’s done working with local organizations to support ex-offenders and help them develop the skills and support them as they sort of reintegrate to society,” said Anderson. “I think he brings an awareness and sensitivity to the challenges that face our people in neighborhoods and communities across Philadelphia. I think he brings a degree of compassion and empathy that may be lacking in the political discourse. And I think he brings a history of being a problem solver and somebody who sort of cuts through the nonsense, focused on solutions.”

Some of the other candidates who have already announced their intent to join the 2023 mayoral race include former Councilmembers Cherelle Parker, Derek Green and Maria Quiñones Sánchez and former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart. Former Councilmember Allan Domb also resigned his seat and is expected to make a bid despite not making an official announcement as of yet.

The upcoming mayoral race has led to substantial turnover on the City Council as all of the above-mentioned candidates have recently resigned in order to make mayoral bids. These resignations are a result of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter, which states: “No officer or employee of the City, except elected officers running for re-election, shall be a candidate for nomination or election to any public office unless he shall have first resigned from his then office or employment.”

Brown, on the other hand, is free to push forward with his mayoral campaign whilst also continuing to act in his supermarket leadership positions.

According to Anderson, the next steps for Brown include a deep dive into Philadelphia’s local communities and finding ways to address the needs of community members.

“He’s going to reach out to every community in every neighborhood across the city. He’s going to listen, and he’s going to talk about what his vision is, … but more importantly, (it’s) to understand to an even greater degree what the needs of the people of Philadelphia are so that as he moves forward, he can help build a plan that’s designed to address those needs. … It’s obvious that business as usual is not working. If it were working, we wouldn’t have record gun violence and schools that are crumbling and a city that in many instances can’t provide basic services and help ensure basic quality of life. So he believes that a new perspective when that’s not just business as usual is the answer, and he’s going to continue to work with folks in the community and help advance that vision,” said Anderson.