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3 UVa football players killed in shooting are remembered as role models with 'lasting impact'

Loved ones of D’Sean Perry, Devin Chandler and Lavel Davis Jr. mourn their sudden, violent passing.

Family and friends of three college football players gunned down at the University of Virginia called their slayings "heartbreaking and tragic."

Cavaliers linebacker D'Sean Perry and wide receivers Devin Chandler and Lavel Davis Jr. were killed Sunday night, a little more than 30 hours after team's game against the University of Pittsburgh. Police named onetime football player Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. as the suspect.

Lavel Davis Jr.

Virginia Cavaliers wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr. (1) walks off the field at the conclusion of the college football game on Sept. 10, 2022, at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.
Virginia wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr. walks off the field after the Cavaliers’ game against Illinois at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill., on Sept. 10.Michael Allio / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Davis, 20, who was set to graduate in December, was a beloved first child and a “role model” to his younger brother and sister, said his father, Thaddeus Lavel Davis. 

He said he was “heartbroken.”

“I lost my baby. This is my firstborn child,” he said, adding that his son, who could “light up a room just with a smile,” was focused on school, football and his family. 

Their family, from Charleston, South Carolina, was heading to the campus Monday. 

Davis said he learned the news of his son’s death Monday morning after he got a call from his wife while he was at work but didn’t know exactly what happened in the shooting.

He said he last talked to his son Saturday and wished he could have told him one last time, “I love you, son.”

D'Sean Perry

Virginia linebacker D'Sean Perry runs on the field during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Syracuse on Sept. 23, 2022 in Syracuse, N.Y.
Virginia linebacker D'Sean Perry during the second half of the Cavaliers’ game against Syracuse in Syracuse, N.Y., on Sept. 23.Adrian Kraus / AP file

An attorney for Perry’s parents, Happy and Sean Perry, issued a statement thanking the South Florida and the Charlottesville communities for “the outpouring of support during this impossibly tragic time.” 

“Right now, Happy and Sean will not speak publicly about the incident as their grief is only beginning, and out of respect for the University of Virginia community which has been terrorized by another mass shooting in the United States,” attorney Michael Haggard said. 

Devin Chandler

Devin Chandler #86 of the Wisconsin Badgers before the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini on Oct. 9, 2021 in Champaign, Ill.
Devin Chandler, then of the Wisconsin Badgers, before a game against Illinois in Champaign, Ill., on Oct. 9, 2021.Michael Hickey / Getty Images file

Chandler came to Virginia’s program after having transferred from the University of Wisconsin.

“It is heartbreaking and tragic that Devin’s young life was cut short by violence," Wisconsin athletic director Chris McIntosh said in a statement.

Chandler had plenty of friends in Madison, and Sunday's fatal shooting will be felt throughout the program, Wisconsin officials said.

“He had a lasting impact on his teammates, even after he left UW, which is a testament to the type of person he was,” interim Badgers coach Jim Leonhard said in a statement.

“His personality was infectious and he was a joy to be around. Our team is hurting for him and his family.”