RICHMOND, Va. — Students at the University of Virginia returned to class Wednesday for the first time since a shooting occurred on the ground Nov. 13, killing three students and wounding two others.
Temporary memorials were sprayed with flowers, candles, and cards across UVA, remembering D’Sean Perry and Lavel Davis Jr. and Devin Chandler, all players on the UVA Football Team.
On the night they were murdered, the university was closed for nearly twelve hours, as police searched for suspect Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., a student and current player.
“I was really shaken up,” said sophomore Renee Grotzek. “It was the longest week in university history that I feel like. It’s only been two days, but it feels like weeks.”
“Just seeing people on the ground,” she said, “you can feel how different it is.” “Everyone feels the loss and you can see it all over the land.”
Despite the strange feeling of being back, Grotzik said she felt supported by her peers and the university.
“No one is left untouched,” she said. “Every organization does its best to make sure its members are doing well.”
Dennis Ting, a 2L student at UVA Law, said returning to class has been cathartic for some of his peers.
“It’s definitely very surreal,” he said. “I think part of me was expecting, Are people just going to pretend this didn’t happen? And I think it’s quite the opposite. I think people want to think, they want to talk about this. It’s a shared trauma we have.”
Marc Lorenzoni, co-founder of Ragged Mountain Running, which sat at The Corner, a group of UVA-adjacent companies, is known for recruiting students.
Since its inception 41 years ago, Lorenzoni said it has hired nearly 1,000 students.
“We said to the kids, you don’t have to go to work. If you don’t feel like it, you’re absolutely fine. And they all showed up. And they wanted to talk,” said Lorenzoni.
“All of them came in, wanted to talk. I hugged them, arms around them, and just listened to their experiences as they explained what they had been through. And I have to say they were traumatized,” Lorenzoni said.
Over the past four decades, Lorenzoni said, he has watched the university deal with many tragedies.
“This was different. That’s all of them. Every single one of them was affected,” he said. “The university shined through this. They showed that they really are a university that cares deeply. You could see this camaraderie, this unification of the student body over the last couple of days. This was really, really special.”
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