KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Police are continuing their investigation into the shooting of Zaevion Dobson’s 12-year-old cousin at a gathering in the Mechanicsville community of Knoxville Saturday night, just hours after a celebrity basketball game in Dobson’s honor.
Knoxville Police Department said the shooting happened at around 9:46 p.m. at Danny Mayfield Park, located at 700 College Street. They said Jajuan Latham, 12, died after he was shot in the head.
A gathering of a large number of people was being held in the park when shooting erupted between the party attenders and occupants of two vehicles that were driving by the park, according to Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch. He said Jajuan Latham was shot while sitting in the back seat of his father’s parked vehicle.
Police say the people in the vehicles and those attending the gathering in the park have gang affiliations. During the shooting, a woman seven months pregnant fell and lost her child.
Police say several persons of interest and/or witnesses have been detained and the interviewees provided potential evidence which is being examined. On Tuesday, The Violence Reduction Task Force, including members of the Violent Crimes Unit, the Organized Crime Unit, the Repeat Offender Squad and Chief David Rausch visited the home of a person of concern in the shooting.Related: Over $10K offered by community to help find Jajuan Latham’s killer
They are asking anyone with information on the shooting to call Knoxville Police Department’s crime information line at (865) 215-7212.
North Knoxville clothing store DK Denim says it will offer a $2,000 reward to anyone who comes forward with who is responsible for the shooting. Former Volunteer football player Albert Haynesworth has also offered to donate $5,000 to the person who lets police know who murdered Jajuan Latham.
“I’m tired of our youth being murdered or lead down the wrong path by cowards that can pick up a gun and just shoot,” said Haynesworth on his Facebook page. He said if $5,000 can bring closure to the Latham family he is willing to give.Video:Knoxville leaders ask community to step-up after ‘senseless violence’
Jajuan Latham’s father
“We were at the celebrity basketball game and he had a good time and he was just more exciting to Bobby Maze than I was,” said Hubert Latham, Jajuan Latham’s father. “We went and had a good time and he was a good kid and they took my son’s life.”
Hubert Latham said they had pulled up to a park to pick up his son’s friends when he heard gunshots.
“The first thing I do is reach my son and I just realize he’s not moving, so I’m like, ‘What’s going on, is he asleep?,'” said Hubert Latham. “When I picked him up, that’s when I realized, what I seen, blood.”
The father says he held his son’s stomach, rushing him to University of Tennessee Medical Center. Police said the 12-year-old died just after 11:00 p.m. from his injuries.
“I knew he was going to pull through. It broke my heart 30 minutes later when they came out and told me my son was dead. The only thing that came to my mind was, who did this?,” said Hubert Latham.
Funeral for Jajuan Latham will be Thursday, April 21, at Overcoming Believers Church. Visitation will be from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and the funeral will follow. Burial will be Friday at 10 a.m. at New Gray Cemetery on Western Avenue.More online: Donate to the family
Saturday’s Bobby Maze Celebrity Basketball Game was Saturday night to encourage Knoxville youth to stop the violence. Four years ago he lost one of his close cousins to gun violence. After hearing of Zaevion’s story, he knew he had to help out. Jajuan Latham and Zaevion Dobson’s mother, Zenobia, were in attendance.
“I was devasted,” said former University of Tennessee basketball player Bobby Maze. “Just knowing that Jajuan was one of the first kids at the gym to come in to see this celebrity game and he was excited about this event and to hear about hours later or after the game he was killed, it really hurt me. The whole purpose of doing this event was to shed some light on some of the things that has been happening in this community… Zaevion and it’s just been a lot of gun violence…. so I wanted to bring something positive to this area and to find out a kid that participated and came out to support this event was killed after and 12-years-old. You know, it’s just sad.”
Related:Bobby Maze Celebrity Basketball Game has a special message for Knoxville’s youth
Zaevion Dobson, a Fulton High School football player, died shielding three girls from bullets. Knoxville police believe the chain of events started on December 17 when Brandon Perry was involved in a shooting that served as a catalyst for three other shootings.
Police believe the incident prompted a shooting at Brandon Perry’s home where his mother was shot. After learning his mother was shot, investigators said Brandon and several additional suspects drove to Badgett Drive where they shot into a crowd. Perry was later shot and killed.Continuing coverage:Zaevion Dobson