COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WRIC) — The owner of a local gun shop told WRIC, WFXR’s sister station on Wednesday that Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., the shooting suspect on the University of Virginia’s campus on Sunday night, legally purchased two guns from their store this year.
The owner of Dance’s Sporting Goods, Marlon Dance, wrote in a statement to 8News saying there was nothing noteworthy about the purchases that Jones made at his store.
On Feb. 19, Jones purchased a caliber rifle and on July 8, he bought a Glock in model 45, a nine-millimeter pistol, with an additional magazine.
Jones attempted to make two purchases from the store in previous years, but was turned away, Dance said. In December 2018, Jones tried to buy a handgun from the store, but was denied because he was under 21 years old. In July 2021, he tried to buy a caliber rifle but failed the background check.
Dance said they alerted Virginia State Police (VSP) on both instances when Jones tried unsuccessfully to buy firearms.
A VSP spokesperson said that there was an investigation into the attempted purchase of a firearm on July 8, 2021, from a federally licensed gun dealer in Colonial Heights. The VSP Firearms Transaction Center denied Jones’ request based on a pending charge.
“We were saddened to learn of the tragic events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Sunday evening and our thoughts are with the three young men who tragically lost their lives and the two students who were wounded in this senseless act of violence,” Dance said. “We will continue to assist law enforcement as they attempt to make sense of this terrible tragedy and we pray for the victims of this tragedy.”
Russ Stone, 8News legal analyst, and Richmond attorney said there are a few reasons Jones may have failed the background check in 2021, but was able to legally purchase guns this year.
“If you’ve been charged with a felony and it hasn’t been resolved yet, during the pendency of that you’re not allowed to purchase a firearm. If the felony is then dismissed or reduced as apparently happened in this case, once that’s done, your rights to purchase a firearm comes back into being,” he said.
VSP said Jones’ pending charge was reduced to a misdemeanor by the court in October 2021, thereby removing the prohibition against future purchases.
At this time, 8News has not received information regarding what kind of firearm was used in the deadly shooting on the University of Virginia’s campus.