In December, 15-year-old Zaevion Dobson died shielding three friends from gunshots. The Knoxville, Tenn., native and Fulton High School football player was hailed as a hero by President Barack Obama. On Saturday, Zaevion's 12-year-old cousin, Jajuan Latham, died of a gunshot to the head shortly after he attended a basketball game held to honor his slain cousin.
"We were at the celebrity basketball game, and he had a good time and he was just more excited to see [former University of Tennessee basketball player] Bobby Maze than I was," Hubert Latham, Jajuan's father, told WATE. "We went and had a good time and he was a good kid, and they took my son's life."
The Bobby Maze Celebrity Basketball Game was established to encourage young people to stop the violence. The game's namesake, a former University of Tennessee basketball player, told the news station that he was "devastated" to learn of Jajuan's death.
"Just knowing that Jajuan was one of the first kids at the gym to come in to see this celebrity game and he was excited about this event, and to hear about, hours later or after the game, he was killed, it really hurt me," Maze said. "The whole purpose of doing this event was to shed some light on some of the things that has been happening in this community … Zaevion, and it’s just been a lot of gun violence. … so I wanted to bring something positive to this area, and to find out a kid that participated and came out to support this event, was killed after, and 12 years old? You know, it’s just sad."
Hubert Latham told the news station that after the basketball game, he stopped at a park to pick up some of his son's friends. He says that's when he heard the gunshots. Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch told the news station that occupants inside two vehicles driving by the park opened fire.
"The first thing I do is reach my son, and I just realize he's not moving, so I'm like, 'What's going on, is he asleep?' " Latham told the news station. "When I picked him up, that’s when I realized what I seen, blood."
Latham rushed his son to a local hospital, hoping for the best.
"I knew he was going to pull through," he told WATE. "It broke my heart 30 minutes later when they came out and told me my son was dead. The only thing that came to my mind was, 'Who did this?' "
Police are still gathering information and do not have any suspects. They are asking anyone with information about the shooting to call Knoxville Police Department's crime information line at 865-215-7212.
Read more at WATE.