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Memorial service for slain UVA football players to be held Saturday

(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — The University of Virginia will host a public memorial service on Saturday to honor the three football players killed in a mass shooting earlier this week on the Charlottesville campus.

Lavel Davis Jr., and Devin Chandler, both wide receivers on the team, and linebacker D’Sean Perry were killed on Sunday when a gunman opened fire on a bus full of students returning home from a class field trip to see a play in Washington, D.C., university officials said. Two other students — Mike Hollins and Marlee Morgan — were injured, the school said.

A suspect — identified as 22-year-old UVA student Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., a former walk-on player for the team — was taken into custody Monday morning following an overnight manhunt. A motive hasn’t been released.

The UVA football team was scheduled to play its final home game of the season on Saturday against Coastal Carolina University. The school announced the game will be canceled to instead host a memorial service as the community mourns the victims of the shooting.

The memorial service is scheduled to be held in the John Paul Jones arena at 3:30 p.m. local time and will also be livestreamed here.

“There’s nothing normal about what we’re going through as a community,” UVA President Jim Ryan said in a video message this week. “I hope you are taking care of yourselves, taking it easy on yourselves, and leaning on each other.”

Ryan said the football team’s decision to cancel the game was supported by the head football coach and the university’s athletic director.

“I’m ready for somebody to pinch me and wake me up and say that this didn’t happen,” the head football coach, Tony Elliott, said at a news conference earlier this week.

Elliott called the slain players three “beautiful, young, human beings” with “unbelievable” futures ahead of them.

The memorial service follows a silent vigil held at the campus on Monday night that was attended by hundreds.

In other tributes, members of UVA’s basketball team warmed up on Friday for a game against Baylor in Las Vegas while wearing shirts in memory of the three students.

A memorial decal honoring Chandler, Davis and Perry has also been worn on the helmets of college football players this weekend, including during Saturday’s Duke-Pittsburgh game.

The suspected gunman is facing three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, according to University of Virginia Police Chief Timothy Longo. Jones also faces two counts of malicious wounding and firearm charges in connection to the two other students, Albemarle County Commonwealth Attorney James Hingeley said.

Jones did not enter a plea at his first court appearance Wednesday. He is set to return to court on Dec. 8.

Amid the criminal investigation, Ryan said the school will conduct an external review of its interactions with the suspect to consider whether “we did all we could to prevent or avoid this tragedy.”

“This will likely take a while, but we will share — and act upon — what we ultimately learn,” he said in the message. “It’s possible, and perhaps likely, that we will never find one single thing that will explain this. It may also be that we never truly understand why this happened.”

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