A high school football player died while shielding three girls from gunfire during a random shooting in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch broke down at a press conference discussing the young man’s heroism: “Zaevion Dobson, a 15-year-old Fulton High School student and football player, was struck and killed after he had jumped on top of three girls to shield them…to shield them from the shooters.”
A teary-eyed and choked-up Rausch paused for several seconds before he could finish the sentence.
WATE-TV reports that “three males with possible ties to a gang fired into a crowd of kids preparing to celebrate the holidays.” The television station noted that Dobson “jumped on top of three girls to shield them from the bullets.”
he died laying on top of me . I love him that’s my brother man ❤️ rest easy zae ILL NEVER FORGET YOU
— faith. (@ovofaiith) December 18, 2015
“That speaks to his character,” Fulton High School principal Rob Speas noted about Dobson’s last gallant act. “As a sophomore, he was a leader. He was a kid that other kids wanted to be around.”
The murder came as one of three shootings in Knoxville on Thursday night. The mother of a 23-year-old man named Brandon Perry receiving a gunshot wound led to Perry traveling to Dobson’s neighborhood to fire several shots upon a crowd that included the sophomore and his friends returning from a high school basketball game. Later in the evening, an unknown assailant or assailants opened fire on Mr. Perry, who died from several gunshot wounds after crashing his car through an exterior wall and into the interior of an elderly woman’s home, leaving the mom he sought to avenge wounded twice over, another boy’s mother heartbroken, and a third woman temporarily homeless.
“All Zae wanted to do was play football,” classmate Destiny Mabry told Knoxville’s WATE-TV. “That’s literally all he wanted to do.”
Dobson’s high school varsity team went 10-2 this season, during which his older brother appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter for making a catch in practice while doing a backflip. Dobson played fullback and inside linebacker. He made 32 tackles and sacked a quarterback during his sophomore season that ended roughly a month before his life did.