UVA Shooting: Accused gunman Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. makes first court appearance

Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., the man charged with shooting and killing three University of Virginia football players on campus last month, appeared in a Charlottesville courtroom Thursday morning for a hearing.

It was the University of Virginia student's first in-person appearance in court, as a judge set a date for a hearing when witnesses will testify about the shootings on a bus carrying students back to campus from a field trip last month.

Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 23, was led into court wearing handcuffs, leg irons and a striped jail jumpsuit. He sat quietly as his public defender, a prosecutor and Judge Kenneth Andrew Sneathern scheduled a preliminary hearing for March 30.

If the judge decides after hearing from witnesses that the state has enough evidence to establish probable cause that Jones committed the killings, he'll send the case to a grand jury. 

Commonwealth's Attorney James Hingeley told the judge that the state plans to call a large number of witnesses.

Jones has not yet entered a plea, and Public Defender Liz Murtagh declined to comment.

Authorities say Jones Jr., a UVA student and former member of the school’s football team, was returning from a field trip to see a play in Washington, D.C. last month with fellow students when he opened fire onboard a bus as it pulled to a stop at a campus parking garage.

Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. (Henrico County Sheriff’s Office)

Lavel Davis Jr., D'Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were killed in the attack. A fourth player, Mike Hollins, and student Marlee Morgan were injured in the shooting.

Jones Jr. is facing three counts of second-degree murder and other charges in the shooting.

UVA football players D'Sean Perry (l) Devin Chandler (m) Lavel Davis Jr. (r) were killed Monday night when police say fellow student Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. opened fire in a bus on the University of Virginia campus.

Virginia canceled its final two games of the season after the shooting, and the team and university community memorialized the victims in a nearly two-hour service on campus.

Team members traveled to each of the three funerals held for their teammates. The NCAA granted an extra year of eligibility to Virginia football players whose eligibility has expired in the aftermath of the slaying.

The Associated Press contributed to this report