Former coach of UVA shooting victim speaks out: “He was like a son to me”

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 7:04 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - UVA students went back to class today, but three desks will remain empty.

The grief for their classmates Lavel, Devin and D’Sean is still on full display.

Those closest to D’Sean Perry in his hometown of South Florida now are speaking out on the heartache for the first time.

“He was like a son to me,” his former high school coach Earl Sims said. “D’Sean was a beautiful flower in our garden at Gulliver and when he got transplanted to his next school we knew he was going to continue to grow, but God picked that flower.”

Coach Sims was Perry’s closest mentor saying that Wednesday was the first time he’s been able to return to work since Sunday’s shooting.

“The amount of devastation cannot be described because every moment is dedicated to just thinking about the inconceivable happening,” he said.

D’Sean’s parents are in Charlottesville now making plans to bring their son’s body back to Florida.

His father tweeted a picture of his locker at UVA today. His uniform, pads, and cleats were still hanging in the same spot, untouched.

Flowers have been placed in the spot where D’Sean once sat.

Several former teammates were on a Zoom call last night sharing memories of their friend.

“Some words from his fellow teammates: D’Sean loved people. He loved me. D’Sean helped people and showed us the way we should live our lives. Everyone on that call was grateful for his brotherhood,” Sims recounted.

The family’s lawyer, Michael Haggard, is known for representing victims of gun violence, including several families affected by the Parkland school shooting. For Haggard, this case is personal.

“This is different for me. I knew D’Sean Perry,” Haggard said. “I knew D’Sean for several years because my son played high school football with D’Sean and for Coach Sims at Gulliver Prep High School.”

“The first thing that everyone noticed about D’Sean Perry was his unbelievable smile,” he went on to say. “He was a gentle giant.”

As for the survivors, the 5th victim, Marlee Morgan, has been discharged from the hospital.

A family spokesperson for Mike Hollins says he was able to be taken off a ventilator. He is now awake and alert, and finally out of the ICU.