UVa Shooting Victim Spoke to Mom Minutes Before Death

Happy Perry, mother of D'Sean Perry, says his death could have been prevented
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2022 8:46 AM CST
UVa Shooting Victim Spoke to Mom Minutes Before Death
Virginia linebacker D'Sean Perry (41) takes a knee before an NCAA college football game against Syracuse on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022 in Syracuse, NY.   (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Happy Perry had just gotten off the phone with her son when the University of Virginia football player was shot dead. D'Sean Perry was one of three students killed on a bus after returning to campus from a field trip to Washington, DC, last month. A fellow student on the bus—a former member of the football team who may have targeted football players—has been charged. D'Sean Perry spoke with his mother every morning at 10am and every evening at 10pm, per the Washington Post. As their last conversation wrapped up at 10:06pm on Nov. 13, D'Sean "said they were on the way back almost to campus and his phone was going dead," his mother tells NBC News. Minutes later, "we started getting tweets ... that there was an active shooter at the school."

D'Sean didn't answer his parents' subsequent calls from South Florida, but they hoped the problem was his phone. After a "dreadful," hours-long wait, D'Sean's parents received a call from police and learned their son, set to graduate in January, was dead. "I heard my wife on the phone … she just broke down crying," Sean Perry tells NBC. "All I could do is run around the house and say 'no,' and we just cried together." Happy Perry describes the tragedy as "insane" and "unreal," per the Post. She adds the couple will advocate for gun safety regulations. "If my voice can help—then that's a start," she says. "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."

She says the school should have strictly enforced a gun ban when a student reported that the suspected shooter had a gun in September. The university's threat assessment team investigated but found Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. had not made any threats. He did, however, have a 2021 conviction for a misdemeanor concealed-weapon violation, which he failed to disclose, per the Post. "He should have been suspended, or put off campus," Happy Perry tells the outlet. A special counsel team is investigating at the university's request in the hope that officials can "learn as much as we can about this event and the circumstances that led to it" and "apply those lessons to keep our community safe," university president Jim Ryan said last week. (More University of Virginia stories.)

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