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UVA to pay $9M related to shooting that killed 3 players

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — The University of Virginia will pay $9 million in a settlement related to a 2022 campus shooting that killed three football players and wounded two students, a lawyer representing some of the victims and their families said Friday.

But some of the families are calling for more: The immediate release of an independent probe into the shooting that was completed last year. Its focus included efforts by the university to assess the potential threat of the student who was eventually charged with murder as well as recommendations from what was learned.

Kimberly Wald, an attorney who represents some of the families, said the university should have removed the alleged shooter from campus before the attack because he displayed multiple red flags through erratic and unstable behavior.

“This settlement today is only one small step for these families — there is much to be done,” said Wald, an attorney with the Miami-based Haggard Law Firm. “If there is one lesson, even one lesson that we can learn from that report, we need to know it now ... We need to protect lives now.”

University officials postponed the report’s release last year over concerns that it could affect the alleged shooter’s upcoming trial.

“We are committed to providing it as soon as we can be sure that doing so will not interfere in any way with the criminal proceeding,” UVA President Jim Ryan said last fall.

The school in Charlottesville will pay $2 million each to the families of the three students who died, the maximum allowable under Virginia law, said Wald, who represents the estate of D’Sean Perry. The other two students who died were Devin Chandler and Lavel Davis Jr.

The university will pay $3 million total to the two students who were wounded Mike Hollins, a fourth member of the football team, and Marlee Morgan, who Wald also represents.

The settlement was negotiated outside of court and did not follow the filing of a lawsuit, Wald said. However, every settlement in Virginia must be approved by a judge. The settlement with UVA was accepted by a judge in Albemarle County Circuit Court on Friday afternoon.

The agreements also were approved by Virginia Gov. Glenn Younkin and state Attorney General Jason Miyares, the university said in a statement.

UVA Rector Robert Hardie and President Ryan said in the statement Friday that the three students’ lives “were tragically cut short” and the young men “have been ever present in our minds.”

“We will forever remember the impact that Devin, Lavel, and D’Sean had on our community, and we are grateful for the moments they spent in our presence uplifting UVA through their time in the classroom and on the football field,” the statement said.

Police said Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., a UVA student and former member of the school’s football team, carried out the shooting. It occurred when he and others had returned by charter bus to campus from a field trip to see a play in Washington, authorities said.

The violence that erupted near a parking garage set off panic and a 12-hour lockdown of the campus until the suspect was captured. His trial on murder charges and other counts is scheduled for January.

Within days of the shooting, university leaders asked for an outside review to investigate UVA’s safety policies and procedures, its response to the violence and its prior efforts to assess the potential threat of the student who was eventually charged. School officials acknowledged he previously had been on the radar of the university’s threat-assessment team.

The report was completed in October, and UVA said it would release it in November. But UVA’s stance changed over concerns about affecting Jones’ trial.

Happy Perry, who lost her son D’Sean Perry, said Friday that the report should be released now if it can help prevent similar shootings.

“As a mom, I want to know what happened. It is my right to know what happened,” she said during a Zoom call with reporters. “At this point, it is an issue of public safety and national security that we get that report.”

Brenda Hollins, whose son Mike Hollins was shot and wounded, said she felt mixed emotions Friday in the wake of the settlement. And she talked about how devastated and changed all of the families are.

“You put on your smile, and throughout the day you may be able to move forward,” Hollins said during the Zoom call. “But then it just creeps up on you. And if you do not address it at that moment, then it consumes you.”

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