The heartbroken Muslim mother of 14-year-old boy fatally shot after a high school football scrimmage in Philadelphia has revealed the last seconds in her child’s life.
Meredith Elizalde, an American Muslim convert, was waiting outside Roxborough High School to pick her son Nicolas Elizalde on Tuesday.
As the sound of gunfire erupted, she ran towards the bullets where she found her son bleeding from the chest and suffering from an apparent gunshot wound.
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“I heard the shooting start and I didn’t know where he was, but inside as a mother I knew it. I ran to the shots,” Elizalde recalled to NBC Philadelphia.
“I ran to the shots and I couldn’t get him, but I held him and I felt him leave. But I was holding him. He wasn’t alone.”
She said that she touched his face and said, “I love you, I’m here” and recited the shahada, or Muslim declaration of faith, for him.
She described Nicolas as “the best son that anyone could ask for,” who loved animals, the environment, and took part of marches in the name of protecting the environment and gun control.
Nicolas hated guns, and he wept after hearing about the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two teachers in May.
“He was the most gentle soul that I ever came across in my life. I’ve always said it was like raising Gandhi,” she said.
Muslims have shared messages of condolence with the mother, praying for her to find patience after the loss of her only child.
“To Allah we belong and to Him we will return. May Allah accept #NicolasElizalde as a martyr and grant his mother Meredith patience and steadfastness. Please pray for them,” imam Omar Suleiman wrote on Twitter.
More than 100 people also came to a candlelight vigil held in Gorgas Park, adjacent to Roxborough High School on Thursday night to remember Nicolas.
The vigil was hosted by numerous faith leaders from the area. Who came to support the bereaved mother.
Jamel Harris is friends with Elizalde’s mother and came to the vigil with his daughter to show support.
“He was a good kid and I know people say that all the time, but he was a genuinely good kid,” said Harris.
Police are still looking for the gunmen, announcing a $45,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.