Zenobia Dobson, center, speaks during a candlelight vigil for her slain son, Zaevion Dobson, at Sam E. Hill Park in Knoxville, Tenn., on Dec. 18, 2015.
Adam Lau—AP
By Melissa Chan
December 20, 2015

A Tennessee high school football player who died shielding three girls from gunfire was remembered as a hero for his selfless final act during a candlelight vigil.

More than 100 people gathered at a Knoxville park on Friday to honor Zaevion Dobson, a 15-year-old Fulton High School student who police say was shot and killed after he jumped on top of the girls to protect them during a shooting spree.

Some of the mourners cried as they raised candles in memory of the sophomore and starting varsity linebacker whose funeral is set for the day after Christmas, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

“Most children that age would have ran,” his neighbor, Denitra Cash, told the newspaper. “He didn’t. He saved lives.”

The shooting on Thursday injured one other person, police said. One of the gunmen was also killed. Knoxville Police on Friday said they charged a 20-year-old suspect in connection with the deadly gunfire. Christopher Bassett, 20, is being held without bond on charges of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and violation of probation, authorities said.

Attendees raise candles to celebrate the life of Zaevion Dobson at Sam E. Hill Park in Knoxville, Tenn., on Dec. 18, 2015.
Adam Lau—AP

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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