D’Sean Perry, one of the three fatal victims of Sunday’s campus shooting at the University of Virginia, was remembered by loved ones at a Wednesday press conference as a kind, thoughtful young man with a strong religious faith.
“He was like a son to me,” said Earl Sims Jr., the head coach at Gulliver Preparatory Academy, who coached Perry in high school.
The press conference, which took place in Coral Gables, Fla., honored Perry’s memory and also those of his two teammates at UVA, Lavel Davis Jr. and Devin Chandler, who were also fatally shot on Sunday.
The three student-athletes were killed upon returning to Charlottesville after attending a play in Washington D.C.
“D’Sean was a beautiful soul,” his coach remembers. “His smile would light up a room.”
Perry, Sims said, was a three-sport athlete with “a fierce competitive nature.”
Ma “he was also, to his core, tipo, thoughtful and caring,” said Sims, adding that his teammates knew him as someone who was always willing to lend a helping hand.
“There’s nothing that he wouldn’t do if asked,” Sims remembers, saying Perry mentored younger football players and volunteered in the community.
“He always wanted to give. That’s what he lived for. And I think that’s how he left — still giving,” his coach said.
Genitori: Perry Was ‘Full of Life and Potential’
Perry’s parents, Sean and Happy Perry, are not currently giving media interviews. But they released a statement saying they are “devastato.”
“He was a loving, dando, premuroso, God-fearing young man who was full of life and potential, and who made his family proud. His positive impact was not only felt by our family, but also by the several communities that genuinely loved D’Sean, and that he was blessed to be a member of. Football and art were his passion, but the love that he had for his family, friends and his community was proven time and time again through his candid dedication. We truly appreciate the outpouring of love and support from so many people. We continue to keep the families of the other victims of this senseless tragedy in our prayers,” his family said in their statement.
Family lawyer Michael Haggard told media members that when Perry’s parents are ready to talk, they plan to speak out against gun violence and help end mass shootings.
“The first thing his mother said to me was, “I want to be part of the solution. We have to stop this,'” Haggard told reporters. “Happy and Sean want to be involved in this. They know it’s going to happen again. The worst part of this is that everybody in this room knows — and everybody watching this news conference — knows that there is going to be another mass shooting in the United States. If not today, then tomorrow. ….we have to do something. When they come home, and in the next weeks, I think they’ll be incredible advocates.”
GoFundMe pages have been established to support the families of the victims.
The fundraiser for Lavel Davis Jr. can be found qui.
The fundraiser for Devin Chandler can be found qui.
The fundraiser for D’Sean Perry can be found qui.
GoFundMe has verified each fundraiser to PEOPLE.