KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A 15-year-old high school football player was killed while trying to protect other people from gunfire during a “senseless act of violence,” authorities said.
Zaevion Dobson was with a group of people Thursday night in Knoxville when several men showed up and began randomly shooting, Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch said.
Dobson, called “Zae” by friends and family, jumped on top of three girls to protect them from the gunfire. He was the only one hit, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
“I’m shocked. I’m really just shocked,” said Zaevion’s brother, Zack Dobson. “We were just sitting on the porch chilling, and we see these random dudes walking up.
“Why would you shoot at random bystanders,” Zack Dobson said “For nothing. … Zae, he was an awesome kid brother, awesome brother. Just know that I miss him. I miss my brother.”
According to police, Dobson’s death was connected to two other shootings overnight.
Lisa Perry, 46, was shot a number of times at her home in East Knoxville, police said. She was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Rausch said Perry’s 23-year-old son, Brandon Perry, and several other men then drove to the neighborhood where Dobson lived and “randomly fired multiple times.”
Brandon Perry was later found to have been shot after he crashed a car into another apartment. He died from his injuries Friday morning. Two other men who fled from the crash were arrested, though one was later released after being questioned.
The other, Christopher D. Bassett, 20, was charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and violation of probation. He is being held without bond.
“These cowardly and senseless acts of violence must stop,” Rausch said. “We should be preparing to celebrate the Christmas holiday, but now we have two men who are dead.”
Zaevion Dobson, a sophomore, played football at Fulton High School.
“He was really one of our success stories,” said Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. “Involved in sports, a mentee of one of our organizations in town. But still he falls victim to this.”
Fulton football coach Rob Black described Dobson as a fine young man.
“Only a sophomore, but a very contagious young man who was very liked by his peers and his teachers,” Black said. “Going to be a tough time as we leave from here and go meet with our football players.”
Contributing: The Associated Press