A community and its youth are grieving today over the death of Zaevion William Dobson, a high school student-athlete who was fatally shot after he and his friends were fired on as they sat outside, authorities said.
"[He] was very well liked by his peers and his teachers," Fulton High football coach Rob Black said during a news conference today. "This was a fine, fine young man. ... I want to try to continue to celebrate the life that he had [and] the impact he had on his peers."
At the news conference, Knoxville Police Department Chief David Rausch choked back tears at one point as he detailed the Thursday night shooting that killed the 15-year-old sophomore and football player at Fulton High School. Rausch said that Dobson had been trying to shield three girls from the barrage of gunfire.
"Unfortunately, they picked a random group of young men and women who were just hanging out and trying to prepare to celebrate the holiday," he said of the shooters.
Police said the Dobson slaying was one of three overnight shootings currently under investigation.
Raush said that around 7:18 p.m. Thursday police responded to a call about shots being fired in a home. Inside the house, which had been struck by gunfire multiple times, police found a 46-year-old woman as well as a 10-year-old child. Raush said the woman, Lisa Perry, had been shot more than once in her lower back. She was hospitalized. The child was not injured.
Several hours later, around 10:12 p.m., Brandon Perry, Lisa Perry's 23-year-old son, and "several additional males" then drove to a different area and allegedly "randomly fired multiple times" at a group of young adults, including Dobson. Dobson was struck and killed. No other injuries were reported.
Around 2 a.m., police responded to reports of a 2002 BMW that had crashed into an apartment, trapping an elderly female resident. Rausch said the woman was rescued and uninjured. The driver of the BMW was identified as Brandon Perry. Police said he'd been shot before the crash.
Brandon Perry was taken to the hospital, where he later died this morning. Two other males who fled the vehicle were taken into custody. One was released after questioning. According to WATE-TV, the other passenger was charged with "being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and violation of probation."
Rausch said authorities believed there was a connection between the shootings and gangs.
"This is a very active investigation. ... We know all three of the incidents that happened overnight are connected," he said. "There were multiple individuals out there."
Later today, police announced that a suspect has been arrested in connection with the three overnight shootings.
Christopher D. Bassett, 20, has been charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and violation of probation, police said, noting there could be additional charges. Bassett was apprehended fleeing from the wrecked BMW after the driver, Brandon Perry, was shot, police said.
Bassett is being held without bond, police said.