Finding Solace in Each Other, One Year Later

November 13, 2023 By Alice Berry, Alice Berry,

Dozens of tea lights flickered on the steps outside Old Cabell Hall at the University of Virginia Monday night. Each was put there by someone mourning the losses of Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry.

One year ago, a gunman killed the three student-athletes, and wounded two other students. On Monday, students, faculty and staff spent time together remembering the slain young men. They found solace during a moment of silence outside the University Chapel. They embraced each other in Scott Stadium. They signed a banner with messages of love.

And at Old Cabell Hall, they left flowers in front of wreaths bearing each of the players’ jersey numbers: 1, 15, 41.

Lines of students waited to place candles on the steps. Others clung to each other as they sat silently on the Lawn. Hundreds came to pay their respects on the cold, clear night.

“The University is supporting us and helping us deal with this grief,” Rachel Lin, a third-year student, said. “It’s important that we take this time to remember.”

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A student writing a message on the UVA Strong banner on the Lawn by the light of a lantern
A student adds a message of love to a banner bearing the slain football players’ numbers. (Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)

The event mirrored one held last year, when students massed on the Lawn for a moment of quiet reflection ahead of a more formal vigil. This year’s gathering concluded a series of events held throughout the day for members of the UVA community to find support and comfort in one another.

James Edwards, president of UVA’s Third-Year Council, helped organize the banner signing.

“We wanted people to be able to leave a physical reminder of them, of their interactions with them,” Edwards said.

Close up of a hand placing a candle on the stairs of Old Cabell Hall.
The anniversary gathering mirrored one held last year. (Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)

As students began to disperse, members of the slain players’ families paused in front of Old Cabell Hall. Happy Perry, D’Sean’s mother, and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Carla Williams wrapped their arms around each other, silhouetted by the glow of tealights.

“Our community has this togetherness, to honor their lives,” Edwards said.

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Mike Mather

Managing Editor University Communications