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Suspect in University of Virginia shooting targeted his victims, prosecutor says

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The University of Virginia canceled its last home football game of the season on Wednesday, days after three members of the team were shot dead by a fellow student on a bus returning from a field trip in what prosecutors said was a targeted attack.

The suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones, made his first appearance on Wednesday morning in an Albemarle General District Court where he faces three counts of second-degree murder and five counts of using a firearm in commission of a felony. He also faces two counts of malicious wounding.

Jones is accused of opening fire inside a bus full of students returning from a field trip to see a play in Washington D.C. on Sunday night. The shooting took place after the bus pulled into a parking garage on campus at the school in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Prosecutor James Hingeley from the Albemarle County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office told the court that a witness reported Jones aimed at “certain people” and was “not randomly shooting,” according to NBC News. The witness said one of the victims, Devin Chandler, was killed in his sleep.

In addition to Chandler, Lavel Davis and D’Sean Perry were also killed. All were members of the school’s football team. Two other students were wounded and taken to University of Virginia Medical Center.

The motive for the shooting remains unclear.

During the brief hearing over video conference, Jones was dressed in a black and white jail uniform. He was appointed a defense attorney, but he told the court that he plans to hire an attorney, NBC News reported.

While no bond was set for Jones, a status hearing date was scheduled for Dec. 8, according to court records.

Moments before Wednesday’s hearing, the university announced that the football team’s last home game of the season against Coastal Carolina on Saturday has been canceled.

“It feels like it’s a nightmare, to be honest with you, and I’m ready for somebody to pinch me and wake me up and say that this didn’t happen,” first-year University of Virginia football coach Tony Elliott said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The shooting was the latest episode of gun violence on U.S. college and high school campuses. The bloodshed has fueled debate over tighter restrictions on access to guns in the United States, where the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms.

Minutes after the shooting, school officials issued alerts on social media telling students and staff to shelter in place, with one tweet saying to “RUN HIDE FIGHT.”

The sprawling campus remained on alert through the night and morning as law enforcement officers conducted a manhunt for Jones, who was later taken into custody.

Classes resumed on Wednesday after they were canceled since the shooting.