Will the Public Ever Get to See the Mass-Shooting Report?

Christopher Darnell Jones Jr.

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia will delay the release of an external investigation into the Nov. 13, 2022, mass shooting that resulted in three deaths and two woundings until after the trial of Christopher Jones, the UVa student charged with the crime.

“After conferring with counselors and Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Hingeley, we have decided that we need to wait until after the criminal proceedings to release further information,” President James Ryan said in a statement appearing Friday on UVa Today. “Making the reports public at this time, or even releasing a summary of their findings and recommendations, could have an impact on the criminal trial of the accused, either by disrupting the case being prepared by the Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney, or by interfering with the defendant’s right to a fair trial before an impartial jury.”

Rector Robert Hardie supported the delay. Speaking for the Board of Visitors, he said, “We agree that we should postpone the release of further information until the criminal prosecution is complete to avoid interfering with or complicating the proceedings.”

“This development is disappointing,” responded Tom Neale, president of The Jefferson Council. “The quintuple shooting is one of the most traumatic events to ever occur at UVa, and the university community has a right to know what went wrong. What assurance do we have that the actions the University has taken to improve safety actually address the problems identified in the report? How do we know a similar breakdown won’t occur again?”

Jones faces 13 indictments in the Albemarle County court case. He is alleged to have shot five fellow passengers on a bus returning from a class field trip in Washington, D.C.. Following Jones’ arrest, it was revealed that, two months before the shooting, he had been reported to the University’s Office of Student Affairs for possession of a firearm in violation of university policy. Student Affairs turned over the report to a Threat Assessment Team. Jones’ behavior had raised numerous red flags, including multiple attempts to purchase guns and carrying a weapon without a permit. Student Affairs moved “to escalate his case for disciplinary action,” but the incident was never forwarded to the University Judiciary Committee.

Given the abundant warning signs, questions arose about UVa’s failure to intervene in a timely manner.

On Nov. 18, 2022, Ryan and then-Rector Whitt Clement asked Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares to appoint outside counsel to conduct an independent review of the University’s response to the shootings “as well as the efforts the University undertook in the period before the tragedy to assess the potential threat Mr. Jones posed to our community.” The request included a review of University policies and procedures, along with recommendations for improvement.

“Understandably, there are many questions about the events that led to the tragedy at University of Virginia,” wrote Miyares when announcing his decision on Dec. 8, 2022, to hire the Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan law firm to conduct an investigation into events. “At the appropriate time, a report will be released to the public to help answer those questions.”

On July 21, 2023, seven months into the investigation, UVa announced the departure of Robyn Hadley, dean of student affairs, after two years on the job. The Ryan administration said nice things about her in the press release but provided no explanation for her leaving. Hadley provided no happy-face quotes, as is customary when a high-ranking official leaves on good terms. The University had no permanent replacement for her lined up. Was the mysterious exit of one of UVa’s highest-ranking administrators tied to findings from the investigation? Outside of UVa’s inner leadership circle, nobody knows.

On October 20, Miyares announced the conclusion of the review, noting that he had transmitted the report to the University of Virginia. The Attorney General provided two versions — a complete version and a redacted version to comply with federal privacy laws. At that time, the UVa administration said it was committed to sharing the report. UVA Spokesperson Brian Coy was quoted by media as saying, “The University will share the report publicly, with a goal of doing so by early November.”

A week later, October 26, the Board of Visitors convened for more than four hours in closed session to “consult with legal counsel and receive legal advice” about legal matters stemming from the mass shooting incident and to “discuss plans for improving public safety” in and around the Grounds. The minutes provide no details of the discussion.

The Board met again Nov. 2 in closed session to discuss legal matters relating to the Nov. 14, 2022, mass shooting. Again, the minutes provide no details.

Three days ago, Nov. 17, Ryan and Hardie announced the decision to delay release of the report. It is not clear who made the decision. The prepared statement attributes the decision to Ryan, Hardie and unnamed “other university officials.” Hardie implied that the Board of Visitors was in accord with the move, saying, as quoted in UVA Today:

“Over the past year, the Board of Visitors has kept a close eye on the University’s response to the tragedy of Nov. 13, 2022, and on the external review into the events surrounding the shooting,” Hardie said. “We agree that we should postpone the release of further information until the criminal prosecution is complete to avoid interfering with or complicating the proceedings.

If the entire Board had voted on such a motion during the Nov. 2 session, however, the minutes make no mention of it.

Hardie’s account, as spun in the administration’s house news organ UVA Today, said the delay did not mean the University was “standing still.” The University had taken many steps since Nov. 13, 2022, to ensure safety on the Grounds. UVA Today listed 12 distinct initiatives, including the dedication of additional resources for the UVa Threat Assessment Team, requiring immediate notification of reports to University Police of firearms on grounds, expanding access to mental health counseling, and adjusting case-management practices to triage student cases more effectively, to cite only four.

It is not known if these changes address specific issues raised in the Quinn Immanuel report, or if the Quinn Immanuel report raised issues that UVa has not yet addressed.

Answers will not be forthcoming for months, if then. “The University will release a final redacted report from the external review once the criminal proceedings have concluded,” says UVA Today. Jones won’t appear in court until Feb. 5, 2024, at which time the trial date might be set. It is unclear when that date might be, how long the trial would take, or if resolution of the case could be dragged out through appeals. 

James A. Bacon is executive director of The Jefferson Council. This post has been republished with permission from the Jefferson Council blog.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


38 responses to “Will the Public Ever Get to See the Mass-Shooting Report?”

  1. LesGabriel Avatar

    I assume the reference to 2002 in the opening sentence was a typo. I assume the AG’s office will be watching the response by UVA to the recommendations in the report and that some of the findings and recommendations do not specifically relate to the defendant, but are more general in nature. It seems that the AG could release those findings and recommendations without interfering with the trial. If necessary, the AG could coordinate with the trial Judge to make sure any proposed release would not influence jurors.

    1. The defendant shot multiple people, in public, in front of many witnesses. Exactly how could the report interfere with the trial?

      I find that extremely hard to believe.

      The more UVA objects, the more I want to see it.

    2. Yes, 2002 was a typo. I have corrected it. Thanks for the quick heads up before too many people had seen the post!

    3. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      “If necessary, the AG could coordinate with the trial Judge to make sure any proposed release would not influence jurors.”

      Or just to be sure, wait until the jurors have finished their work.

      1. LesGabriel Avatar

        My suggestion was meant to find a way to balance the public’s right to know (so we can make informed public policy decisions and hold elected and appointed public officials accountable) and the defendant’s right to a fair trial. Your suggestion puts all of the weight on one side of that balance. I assume that is your intention.

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          The fair trial deserves more weight. The report will be released. I don’t want to pay for multiple trials because of a chance of a mistrial to satisfy the curiosity of muckrakers.

          This isn’t a case of coverup. It’s a case of timing, and the risk to the public is minuscule.

          1. LesGabriel Avatar

            Why not let those who are paid to decide such things to make the right balance–a Judge or the AG? We won’t know whether it is a coverup until we get to see the recommendations and the responses. Student safety is an important factor to consider as is accountability of public officials. Justice delayed is justice denied.

          2. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            When is the trial date? Justice is scheduled.

          3. LesGabriel Avatar

            Justice for the defendant and justice for the citizenry are not the same thing.

          4. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            They are not mutually exclusive.

          5. LarrytheG Avatar

            Should we do that for all the police depts also?

    4. LesGabriel Avatar

      No one has yet commented on the ability or the wisdom of the AG releasing the report, with possible redactions for any parts that might jeopardize a fair trial.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        If it cannot be released in its entirety then why risk the possibility of a hashed up redaction?

        1. LesGabriel Avatar

          Why assume that redactions will be ” hashed up”? This isn’t the FBI after all.

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            You just answered your own question.

  2. DJRippert Avatar

    Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

    Shooting: 2018
    Report published: 2019
    Trail of shooter: 2022

    Tree of Life Synagogue Killings

    Shooting: 2018
    Report published: 2020
    Trial of shooter: 2023

    Buffalo Supermarket Shooting

    Shooting: 2022
    Report published: 2022
    Trial of shooter: Federal trial pending

    These were the first 3 cases I found where the mass shooter lived and was brought to trial.

    Funny that none of these reports had to be held until after the trial of the shooter.

    Methinks Jim Ryan (a lawyer) is lying through his teeth.

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      That is quite a serious charge. As long as you are accusing folks of being liars, you should include Robert Hardie, the Rector, who was involved in all those closed session meetings and supported Ryan. (Hardie was reappointed to the Board by Youngkin.)

      1. DJRippert’s post makes a valid point about past trials. How do you explain the different treatment?

        The more I investigate, the less it makes sense to keep the report secret. Something’s up, and the public has a right to know what it is.

        1. how_it_works Avatar

          “How do you explain the different treatment?”

          They didn’t happen in Virginia. They do things differently in this state.

      2. Virginian78 Avatar

        Incorrect. Robert Hardie was reappointed by Ralph Northam.

  3. Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, said by email Friday that the university’s decision to conceal information that’s in the public interest was disappointing.

    “This is not a law enforcement record and it’s not up to the university to decide what will or will not prejudice a criminal defendant’s trial. That decision is entirely up to a judge when weighing things like a change of venue, juror selection, or the entry of evidence,” Rhyne wrote.

    John Fishwick Jr., a former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia who is now in private practice, said UVA should reverse course and immediately release the investigation. He said he thought both the local prosecutor and Jones’ legal team would want access to the report, adding that UVA’s “higher obligation” is to the public.

    “The victims’ families and the public have a right to know now what happened and there should not be a delay in releasing the investigation until after Mr. Jones’ criminal trial,” he said.


    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      If Megan Rhyne said that, it has some weight IMO.

  4. The redacted report needs to be released ASAP.

    The public has a right to know why the lessons supposedly learned from the Virginia Tech shooting, were ignored by UVA, and who was responsible.

    I also want to know to what degree DEI at UVA played a role.

    Additionally, have the results from the Newport News investigation been made public? There’s a lot we need to know about why that happened as well.

    What about the Nashville shooter’s manifesto?

    If “Democracy dies in darkness,” we’re in bad shape, because that’s the state of affairs with respect to shootings that might implicate the left.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Yes, yes. And they have saved you the trouble.

      ASAP being defined by Mr. Hardie…
      “We agree that we should postpone the release of further information until the criminal prosecution is complete…”

      1. “ASAP being defined by Mr. Hardie…”

        With all due respect to Mr. Hardie, he is not the final authority on legal matters in Virginia. It may end up in court.

        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          You asked for “as soon as possible”. They have explained what and why they define that to be.

          1. And I’m not ready to buy their excuses.

  5. “The total amount billed from the outside counsel, including some pending costs, is $1,435,260.88, according to Victoria LaCivita, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office. That is paid by U-Va., she said.”


  6. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “What assurance do we have that the actions the University has taken to improve safety actually address the problems identified in the report? How do we know a similar breakdown won’t occur again?””

    So did TJC get an advanced copy of the report already? Where did that come from? From someone on the BOV, perhaps?

    1. Eric the half a troll:
      “So did TJC get an advanced copy of the report already? Where did that come from?”

      What, do you think the report costing almost 1.5 million had no findings and no recommendations for improvement? Really?

  7. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    “Don’t worry, Honey. Santa will come soon enough.”

  8. Another shooting. Another case where the public isn’t allowed to see the facts that they need to hold public servants accountable.

    The Richmond School Board on Monday night rejected a proposal to release an external investigation into the June 6 shooting death of an 18-year-old graduating student and his father outside of the Altria Theater after Huguenot High School’s graduation ceremony.

    Board members who rejected the proposal cited concerns over legal ramifications and “attorney-client privilege.”

    Young said he expects the courts to veto his colleagues’ decision, comparing it to the controversy in Loudoun County in which the school division’s handling of a sexual assault in one school led to another sexual assault by the same student in another school after the assailant was transferred.

    In September, a judge ruled that the report commissioned by the school district was to be made public, after school district leaders had argued it was covered under attorney-client privilege and should not be released.

    “It’s awfully important in any circumstance, but particularly when you’re talking about safety, and particularly when you’re talking about a loss of life at a school-related event, that we are prepared to answer the hard questions,” Young said in an interview.

    “The public is at a disadvantage if they are unable to see the very audit, the very investigative report that we commissioned for the purpose of holding us accountable. It’s just very counterintuitive.”


    1. Board members who rejected the proposal cited concerns over legal ramifications and “attorney-client privilege.

      In September, a judge ruled that the report commissioned by the school district was to be made public, after school district leaders had argued it was covered under attorney-client privilege and should not be released.

      In this case, it appears the school board has directly violated a judge’s order.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Is it under appeal? The problem with release of information is you can’t unring the bell.

        1. Confusion on my part. My apologies. There are two reports.

          The judge ruled that the school system’s report must be released.

          The court has not ruled on the external investigation report because no case has been filed (yet).

          1. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Easy to do. Judges do order things and then stay pending appeal.

    2. how_it_works Avatar

      Ever get the feeling that these bureaucrats treat the public like mushrooms?

      Keep ’em in the dark and feed ’em crap.

  9. Verified Former Utility Exec Avatar
    Verified Former Utility Exec

    I tune into this channel whenever I feel a need to be … triggered. I suppose that is the nature of our clickbait society. Look, I get some people get paid to say things on here, and while they demand transparency and openness and other stuff like that, maybe we should too?

    At least Bacon is clear about the fact that the TJC is paying him and that he has an agenda.

    Let’s get a few things out there.

    1. It is standard for a University to speak only through its chief executive and the leader of its board, which in Virginia is the Rector.
    2. The AG appoints counsel to each state college and university. In this case the GOP AG, Jason Miyares.
    3. I swear to God, I thought Bacon was channeling Abby Phillip of CNN when he was writing this — seriously, it’s OK to damage an on-going prosecution because of some ethereal public right to know (see ax to grind, above).
    4. Is anyone to think that this community of masked keyboard urchins has the bona fides to question anything?

Leave a Reply