'Heroic' Football Player, 15, Killed After Jumping in Front of Three Girls During Shooting
"I'm shocked. I'm really just shocked. I can't believe it, can't get it across my head," his brother said
A 15-year-old high school football player was killed Thursday night in Knoxville, Tennessee, when he jumped on three girls as a human shield during a string of related shootings, police said.
Zaevion Dobson was in a group of people fired on at about 10:15 p.m. local time Thursday, Knoxville police said via Facebook.
Zaevion “jumped on top of three girls to shield them from the shooters,” police said in the post.
He was the only one struck in the group, police said. During the string of shootings, a second person was injured and one of the gunmen was killed.
“He’s a sophomore and already successful, already leading a life that’s contagious, that people follow,” Dobson’s Fulton County High School coach, Rob Black, told WVLT. “[He was] so very liked by his peers and his teachers and his teammates. And that makes him successful.”
“Hearts are broken here at FHS,” a principal at Zaevion’s school tweeted. “Please keep our athletes, students and faculty in your prayers. We lost a fine young man. Proud he was a Falcon.”
“We want you to know that Zaevion was an outstanding young man who will always be remembered as a hero,” his football team tweeted.
Zaevion’s death came as the second of three gang-related shootings Thursday night into Friday, police said, according to NBC News.
“We really do plead with our community to step up and to stop these acts,” Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch said during an emotional press conference, according to NBC.
The violence began at about 7:20 p.m. Thursday, when a home was fired upon, hitting Lisa Perry, a 46-year-old woman inside the home, multiple times, police said.
She was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and a 10-year-old in the home was not injured, police said.
Three hours later, Perry’s 23-year-old son, Brandon, is accused of going with multiple other men to Zaevion’s location and “randomly” firing into the group, police said.
“We were just sitting on the porch chillin’, and we see these random dudes walking up,” Dobson’s older brother, Zack, told WBIR.
“I’m shocked. I’m really just shocked. I can’t believe it, can’t get it across my head,” Zack told the station.
“Zae, he was an awesome kid, awesome brother,” Zack said. “Just know that I miss him. I miss my brother.”
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
At about 2 a.m. Friday, following the earlier shootings, Brandon Perry crashed the 2002 BMW he was driving after he had been shot, police said. He was transported to a hospital for treatment but died at about 6 a.m., police said.
Two men are accused of fleeing from the vehicle after the crash, police said. Both were detained and questioned.
Police said one man was released, while the second, 20-year-old Christopher D. Bassett, has been charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, and charged with violation of probation.
Bassett is held without bond, police said. More charges are expected. It was not immediately clear how Bassett pleaded to the charges.
Knoxville police did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.