‘This is heartbreaking’: Parents of UVA shooting victim speak out for the first time
Happy and Sean Perry remember their son, D’Sean, as a ‘loving, caring young man’
CORAL GABLES, FL. (WWBT) - Inside the Hyatt Regency Coral Gables in Florida on Thursday morning, Happy and Sean Perry talked about the life and memories of their son, D’Sean Perry, and the heartbreak they’re experiencing since their son was shot and killed during a mass shooting on UVA Grounds on Nov. 13.
D’Sean Perry and two of his teammates on the UVA football team, Lavel Davis Jr. and Devin Chandler, were shot and killed when a UVA student opened fire inside a bus coming back from a field trip to D.C.
The suspect in this case, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., is behind bars facing multiple charges, including second-degree murder.
“He went for extra credit to the play about Emmett Till, that’s what he was doing on his day off after he went to church that morning with his teammates,” said Michael Haggard, a family friend and the Perrys’ attorney. “He was gunned down and lost his life and these two beautiful parents, who did everything right, lost their angel.”
At the podium, Happy and Sean Perry talked about the heartbreak they’re experiencing and how they want others to remember their son.
“He loved his family, he loved his teammates and this is heartbreaking right now,” said Happy Perry.
“He was a great kid, a smart kid, an intelligent kid,” said Sean Perry. “He earned everything that he had. Nobody can take that away from him.”
D’Sean, who is from South Florida, went to high school at Gulliver Prep and had a list of goals on his wall his mother said he was determined to accomplish.
“Number six was getting drafted into the NFL, helping his community, helping his family and the people that got him there,” she said. “He was a goal chaser.”
During D’Sean’s breaks back home, his mother said he would spend time giving back to the community.
“He would come home on his breaks, go to the local parks, throw footballs with the kids,” she said during the press conference. “Go back to Gulliver, help out his coaches.”
More than a month after D’Sean was killed, Happy Perry said there have been tough moments, especially during the holidays when D’Sean would put up their tree topper.
“We would wait until he comes home, you know, because he was playing football, to put the tree topper on so that really was a moment for me because I couldn’t, I couldn’t, I couldn’t grasp that he’s not here,” she said.
Now, D’Sean’s parents are turning their pain into action to prevent their tragedy from happening to another family.
“I would like to advocate on his behalf for mental health and our gun violence laws,” said Happy Perry. “I’m asking that the football world takes a stand and joins us in this fight.”
For the Perry family, this means a focus on gun violence laws and mental health awareness.
“We need to change gun laws. Change them. We need more stipulations. The red flags were there and this young man was still able to purchase a firearm and that in itself, is a red flag for our whole nation,” she said. “It was my child this time. Next time, it could be yours.”
The Perry family is also planning a bike drive in South Florida to honor D’Sean’s memory, an effort his father said D’Sean was planning to do when he came home for Christmas.
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