Family lawyer of UVA shooting applauds threat assessment bills passed in General Assembly

General Assembly passes bills for campus threat assessment following UVA shooting
As school shootings occur more frequently - Virginia lawmakers are moving swiftly to prevent tragedies from happening on college campuses.
Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 11:20 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 14, 2023 at 6:44 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Legislation is moving forward to prevent a tragedy like the November shooting at the University of Virginia from happening ever again.

House Republicans and Senate Democrats passed two separate bills to boost threat assessment teams on college campuses.

On Nov. 13, 2022, a horrific shooting left three UVA students dead and two injured. In the weeks following, calls for change came from lawmakers in every corner of the country.

A family lawyer for UVA shooting victim D’Sean Perry spoke with NBC12 about the new legislation.

Attorney Michael Haggard and the Perry family have been extremely vocal, saying the senseless murder of D’Sean was preventable.

Now, they’re applauding the Commonwealth for acting quickly as these two bills head to Governor Youngkin’s desk.

“They just want his legacy to continue, and they’re hopeful that with Virginia’s legislator acting so soon, three months later, they’re hopeful that these young boys’ legacy can be to make sure this never happens again,” Haggard said.

Both chambers passed Senate Bill 910 and House Bill 1916 on Monday, tackling the importance of threat assessment teams and resources.

“The state of Virginia should be very proud because, obviously, that’s a mixed political state that came together and did something really important,” Haggard said.

Under the proposed legislation, if a threat assessment team is alerted of a significant threat, the group must obtain criminal and health records for the person, notify local police and disclose a specific threat.

The bills also include extensive training and the creation of a task force.

UVA already has a threat assessment team introduced following the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. The university has faced backlash as the shooting suspect, Chris Jones, was flagged for potential involvement in a hazing incident and gun possession.

“When you combine those two things, I think it rises to that level that the Virginia legislature is talking about that something now has to be done, and it needs to be reported to authorities,” Haggard said. “That was not done, it did not escalate to the point it should have, and unfortunately, three beautiful young men lost their lives.”

Not even 24 hours after both bills passed through the General Assembly, tragedy struck again, this time at Michigan State.

Haggard says this is why something needs to be done on the federal level.

“We’ve had 67 mass shootings in 2023, and it is Feb. 14,” Haggard said. “That’s where the United States is right now, and it’s a terrible place to be, and it’s incredibly unfortunate.”