A 15-year-old football player was killed protecting three of his friends from a possible gang shooting last Thursday in his neighborhood in Tennessee. Zaevion Dobson, a sophomore, was shot when he acted as a human shield to protect three of his female friends from three men with guns who likely had gang ties. One of the girls protected by Dobson used social media to express her grief at the loss.
— NFL Draft Diamonds (@DraftDiamonds) December 26, 2015
The young football player killed while protecting his friends was deemed a success story by many, including school authorities, according to People.
“He’s a sophomore and already successful, already leading a life that’s contagious, that people follow,” Rob Black, Dobson’s Fulton County High School coach, told WVLT.
The football player who was killed was not the first to die during a string of gang-related shootings that occurred last week. According to reports, this was the second of three gang-related deaths between December 17 and December 18. Knoxville Police chief David Rausch pleaded with those involved in the shootings to stop engaging in senseless violence.
“We really do plead with our community to step up and to stop these acts,” he said during an emotionally charged press conference.
In addition to being an active presence on the football field, Dobson was also a teen noted for his work with the 100 Black Men of Greater Knoxville, an organization dedicated to empowering African-American men and other minorities to reach their full potential, according to WATE.
The football player who was killed wasn’t the only person in the neighborhood shot that evening. People reports that 46-year-old Linda Perry was hit multiple times when her home was fired upon at around 7:20 p.m. A 10-year-old inside the home at the time was uninjured. Perry’s son Brandon was accused of going to the group that Dobson was with, along with multiple men, and firing randomly into the group. Brandon Perry was later found having been shot multiple times. He died as a result of his injuries.
According to the Chicago Tribune, U.S. President Barack Obama commented on the football player who was killed last week during his annual Christmas vacation in Hawaii.
“Zaevion Dobson died saving three friends from getting shot,” he said, via Twitter. “He was a hero at 15. What’s our excuse for not acting?”
The president has lobbied unsuccessfully for tighter gun control legislation since the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in 2012. Dobson’s brother Zack, who plans to honor the young football player who was killed by attending the college that his little brother wanted him to attend, said he was trying to understand how people could just randomly attack others.
“Why would you shoot at random bystanders. For nothing. We were just sitting there chilling,” said the elder Dobson brother, according to WBIR. “Zae, he was an awesome kid awesome brother. Just know that I miss him. I miss my brother.”
There were two suspects taken in for questioning after the young football player was killed, according to WBIR, but one was released. The other, Christopher D. Bassett, 20, was held on a variety of charges, including convicted felon in possession of a firearm and violation of probation. Other charges are pending.
— WBIR Channel 10 (@wbir) December 22, 2015
Zaevion Dobson is sorely missed by his teammates, and coach Rob Black said that the players plan on playing next year with the intent of honoring the football player who was killed. In addition, there was grief support being offered at Dobson’s school. If Zaevion Dobson’s death was the result of gang activity, it does appear to be rife in the country, with over 1,500 documented gang members in Knox County and every middle school in the county having at least one known gang member in their ranks.
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