Family, friends and classmates are mourning a high school athlete this weekend who sacrificed his life to save three girls. Zaevion Dobson, 15, died during a shooting spree in Knoxville, Tenn., NBC News reports.
The mayhem began Thursday night when shooters opened fire at a house, injuring Lisa Perry, 46, who was hit several times in the back. In retaliation, her son, 23-year-old Brandon Perry, and his friends drove to another neighborhood and randomly fired at people.
Zaevion, a football player at Knoxville’s Fulton High School, jumped on top of his friends to shield them from the gunfire.
Zack Dobson, Zaevion’s older brother, told NBC that they were sitting on a porch when “these random dudes” approached and started shooting.
“I picked him up, and I sat him in my arms, and I was shaking him, and I was like, ‘I love you, wake up, I need you, wake up,’” Zack, 17, told CBS News.
The teenage girls were unharmed. “If it wasn’t for Zaevion, me or her would have probably been shot,” one of them said to CBS.
Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch said the shootings were gang-related. When asked about Zaevion’s actions, Rausch said, “I have a military background; that’s the actions of heroes,” he told CBS.
The random shootings ended in the early-morning hours on Friday when a rival gang shot Perry while he was driving. Perry crashed the vehicle and died later. Authorities arrested Christopher Bassett, 20, who had survived the crash. Authorities charged him for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and with probation violations.
Knoxville police are searching for three more gang members who are suspected of involvement in Zaevion’s killing.
Meanwhile, Zaevion’s family is preparing to bury him the day after Christmas.