UVA shooting: Football talked to his mom right before he was killed, she tells NBC


One of the three University of Virginia football players shot dead as they returned from a field trip last month was on the phone with his mother just before the shooting, she told NBC.

D’Sean Perry, 22, had been talking to his mom, Happy Perry, but “his cell phone had gone dead,” his mother told NBC in an interview published online Wednesday.

“I had just gotten off the phone with him,” Happy Perry told NBC, before pausing and then repeating as tears fell: “I had just gotten off the phone with him.”

“I’m broken,” she said.

The comments came as D’Sean Perry’s parents, Happy and Sean Perry, are making their first round of interviews since their son and two of his teammates were killed November 13. A fellow student opened fire on the bus as it returned to campus from a class field trip to Washington, DC, killing D’Sean Perry, Devin Chandler and Lavel Davis Jr. and injuring two other students, authorities said.

Meanwhile, a student injured in the attack recalled having “locked eyes” with the gunman before he was shot, he told ABC this week.

“I don’t know, it was like a numb look, and you know, in that moment, I just dropped everything and took off running,” University of Virginia football player Mike Hollins said.

The UVA attack was among more than 620 mass shootings this year in the US – including last month at a Virginia grocery store and an LGBTQ club in Colorado – and one of more than 75 shootings on school campuses in 2022, according to tallies by CNN and the Gun Violence Archive; mass shootings involve at least four wounded, not including the shooter.

D’Sean Perry’s parents are calling on college athletes to be vocal about gun control and mental health issues, and they are vowing to advocate for changes to gun laws, they told The Washington Post.

“I just don’t want any mother, father, family, sister, brother, aunt, uncle to have to go through what we’re going through right now,” Happy Perry told the Post for a story published Wednesday. “If my voice can help – then that’s a start.”

The suspect in the University of Virginia shooting, former UVA walk-on football player Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., faces three charges of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, authorities said. Jones also faces two counts of malicious wounding, each accompanied by a firearm charge.

Jones had his first court appearance on November 16 and a court ordered that he be held without bond. He remains in custody in Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, online records show.

D’Sean Perry, a Miami native and a fourth-year student majoring in studio art and African American and African studies, was a linebacker on the football team. The university posthumously awarded him and the two other slain football players degrees in early December.

Hollins, the wounded player, recalled locking eyes with the shooter on the bus, he told ABC’s Michael Strahan in an interview aired Thursday.

“We locked eyes and that was it,” Hollins said. “It was just a cold look.”

“Once I got up and the bus was stopping is when the gunshots, you know, started ringing out. In that moment I, I knew we had to, you know, get off that bus ’cause it could get a lot worse,” Hollins told ABC.

“Me and another teammate were the only two to get off the bus, and I turned back and I look over my shoulder and I realize, you know, we’re the only two running,” Hollins said.

Hollins turned around to help others, and that’s when he came face to face with the shooter, he told ABC.

“I didn’t really think much in that moment, it was just, literally, an instinct and a reaction to go back,” he told ABC.

The gunman said “nothing at all,” recalled Hollins, who eventually turned around and “took off running.”

He was shot. “I felt him hit me in my back,” Hollins said.

Hollins encountered a pre-med student who helped keep him calm and “kept my breathing under control – was checking my pulse until the ambulance came,” he said.

Hollins didn’t know the shooter before that but had seen him that morning prior to the field trip, he said, adding he’d “looked normal.”

“I didn’t know him. I didn’t know him at all.”

Hollins, who was hospitalized for days, learned about the deaths of his teammates days after the shooting.

“I’ve never cried like that before,” Hollins told ABC. “I mean, I lost a brother that day. I love Lavel with all my heart, love Devin with all my heart. But D’Sean – it was different with him.”

“That was my brother,” Hollins said, getting visibly emotional. “It was tragic hearing that he was gone.”

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