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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)


A third suspect has been indicted in the fatal shooting of Zaevion Dobson, a Fulton High School football player whose death spurred national headlines.

A Knox County grand jury has returned an indictment against Kipling Colbert Jr., 22, in the December 2015 shooting death of Dobson, an innocent bystander shot in what authorities believe was a gang-related retaliation shooting in Lonsdale.

Colbert joins Christopher Drone Bassett and Richard Gregory Williams III, 22, on the list of suspects facing first-degree murder charges in Dobson's death.

Colbert has long been identified by the Knoxville Police Department as a "person of interest" in the case, and police say Bassett told KPD Investigator A.J. Loeffler that Colbert was with him, Williams and Brandon Perry when two car loads of suspected gang members opened fire on a crowd of young people as retaliation for a shooting hours earlier at Perry's mother's home.

Perry's mother was struck by the gunfire. Perry himself was slain in another retaliation shooting soon after Dobson was killed. His slaying remains unsolved.

Authorities believe Perry was angry over the shooting that wounded his mother and believed it was the work of rival gang members. He recruited Bassett, Colbert, Williams and others to carry out a retaliatory attack, authorities have said.

Dobson, a sophomore at Fulton and a promising football player for the Fulton team, was hanging out with friends in Lonsdale when gunfire erupted. He was not a target and had no gang affiliations, according to police.

His friends have said Dobson, 15, was slain while shielding two girls from the gunfire. His death came at a time when deadly interactions between black men and the police were garnering headlines and prompting protests across the country. He became a symbol in the Knoxville community and as far away as the White House of the need for a solution to gun violence, street gangs and bad policing. President Barack Obama invoked Dobson's death in an impassioned speech for stricter gun controls just a month after Dobson died.

Dozens of bullets from different guns were recovered from the scene, and Bassett has said there were others involved. He specifically identified Williams and Colbert. It is not clear, though, why authorities delayed in seeking charges against Colbert. Bassett's statement cannot be used against him.

An arraignment date was not immediately available Tuesday.

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June 21, 2017


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