Michael Hollins, the University of Virginia football player critically injured in Sunday’s mass shooting, was taken off the intubation and transferred from the hospital’s intensive care unit, a family friend told CNN on Thursday.
“Mike is doing better today,” Gipson said. “He is in intermediate care and making positive progress. Hopefully he starts taking steps today.”
A day earlier, Hollins’ family said he had two successful surgeries and asked for prayers from the community.
“We want to start by thanking God for His grace that continues to guide our family through this unspeakable tragedy. In the past 48 hours, Mike has successfully endured two surgeries. We would like to thank his doctors and care team at the University of Virginia Hospital. In the coming days and weeks, Mike will begin the long healing process,” the statement read.
“As Mike begins the path to healing – physically, emotionally and spiritually – the process will take time. We ask that you respect his privacy and continue to give him space to recover.”
The health update comes days after officials say a student shot and killed three other UVA football players – Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry – and injured Hollis and another student on a bus returning to campus from a school trip. The circumstances behind the shooting that devastated the Charlottesville community are still being investigated by police.
Also on Thursday, university officials asked for an independent review of the shooting.
In a letter to Attorney General Jason Miyares, UVA President Jim Ryan and University Dean Whitt Clement asked for the appointment of an “outside special counsel with expertise … to conduct an independent assessment of the university’s response to the shooting, as well as the efforts the university made in the period before the tragedy.”
Miyares announced Thursday that his office will begin an external review of the events leading up to the shooting. His spokesperson, Victoria LaCivita, said in a press release that the AG’s office will bring in special counsel to help complete the work.
“A public report will be shared with students, families, the greater UVA community and government officials in due course,” said LaCivita. “The Attorney General will work with deliberate speed while ensuring that all necessary resources are devoted to the criminal investigation conducted by state and local authorities.”
The suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., 22, legally purchased firearms on two separate occasions after being prevented from doing so years earlier, according to the gun store that made the sale. He tried to buy a firearm in 2018 and 2021, but none of the sales or transfers were completed, Dance’s Sporting Goods owner Marlon Dance told CNN.
Jones was under 21 years old to purchase a gun in 2018 and failed a background check in 2021 attempting to purchase a gun due to a pending criminal charge. “Jones did NOT receive any of the firearms he attempted to purchase, and both attempted purchases were forwarded to Virginia State Police for further action,” Dance said in a statement.
The suspect was able to buy a rifle in February and a 9mm handgun in July, according to the statement, and there was “nothing remarkable” about the 2022 purchases.
It’s unclear if any of the guns Jones bought this year were used in Sunday’s shooting, but police confirmed that a previous hold on his ability to buy firearms was dropped in 2021 due to an ongoing legal matter.
A pending charge Jones faced “was reduced to a misdemeanor by the court in October 2021, lifting the ban on future purchases,” Virginia State Police spokesman Corinne Geller said in a statement.
Jones was also the subject of a gun-related investigation by the university’s judicial board prior to the shooting, in which a student reported that Jones “made a comment to him about possessing a gun,” according to university spokesman Brian Coy. Jones “repeatedly refused to cooperate with university officials,” and his case was escalated for further review and possible disciplinary action, Coy said.
In Sunday’s shooting, Jones faces three counts of manslaughter and three counts of using a gun in the commission of a felony, UVA Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. said. He also faces two counts of intentional wounding, each accompanied by a firearm charge.
Jones’ first trial Wednesday resulted in a remand in custody, the court ordered. Albemarle County Commonwealth attorney Jim Hingeley said he remains in custody at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Penitentiary, online records show, and his next hearing will be in December.
Student Ryan Lynch told CNN affiliate KYW-TV that she was on the bus where the shooting took place and saw Jones push one of the victims.
“Chris got up and pushed Lavel,” Lynch said. “After he pushed him, he was like, ‘You always play with me.’ Said such a weird thing but it was very bizarre because they didn’t talk to him the whole trip.
Lynch then heard gunshots, she told KYW.
“They just kept coming, more and more gunfire,” she said. “We thought he was going to shoot everyone on the bus.”
But “the shooter just walked or jumped off the bus,” Lynch said.
According to Hingeley at Wednesday’s court hearing, a witness to the shooting said Devin Chandler, one of the three killed, was shot while he slept.
Following a campus lockdown and a manhunt for the suspected shooter, Jones was spotted driving a vehicle and apprehended by police Monday about 80 miles east of Charlottesville in Henrico County.
Students, faculty, and the community at large gathered Monday night for a candlelight vigil on campus to commemorate the lives of Perry, Davis, and Chandler.
“We’re all lucky enough to have them a part of our lives,” Cavaliers head coach Tony Elliott said of the three. “They touched us, inspired us, and worked incredibly hard as representatives of our program, university, and community.”
Davis was described as a gentle giant whose smile would light up the room, Elliott said at a news conference Tuesday. It resonated “how much he loved his teammates and would do anything for his teammates,” Elliott added.
Perry was “a delightful, respectful, hard-working individual who was one of the best young men our community had to offer,” said his high school football coach, Earl Sims, Jr., who described Perry on Wednesday as “like a son.”
Perry’s family said in a statement that he “made his family proud” through his faith and good deeds.
“Football and the arts were his passion, but the love he had for his family, friends and his community was proven time and time again by his candid dedication. We greatly appreciate the outpouring of love and support from so many people. We remain the families of keep the other victims of this senseless tragedy in our prayers,” they said.
Adam Sykes, Chandler’s former high school coach, said Chandler “just wanted to make those around him as happy as he was” and often put others first.
“Even during his junior year, when his father passed away in the middle of the season, he came up to me and said, ‘Coach, I want to play this week. My dad would like me to play this week.’ That was his character: always thinking of others,” Sykes said.
The Cavaliers’ upcoming game against Coastal Carolina on Saturday has been canceled. A memorial service will be held Saturday afternoon at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.