“It’s heart-breaking but I know my baby died a hero,” said the grieving mother.
One teenager from North Carolina had a lot more he wanted to experience in life. However, his life was cut short by an unanticipated event. According to Courier Post, 18-year-old Al-Tarrek “Rico” Bell from Skinnersville lost his life while using himself to shield a 10-year-old from getting shot.
The incident took place at around 12:20 a.m. on 27 March 2021, at the Orchard Park apartment complex in New Jersey. The teenager, who was visiting his girlfriend was sitting in the back of a car along with his girlfriend's nephew. Moments later, a driver opened fire. Consequently, the responsible and brave teenager sprung to action. He draped his own body over the young boy without thinking of his own safety. Bullets ripped through the car and Bell was struck by it. According to ABC11, a 25-year-old, who was in the front seat was also killed along with Bell. Meanwhile, the 10-year-old walked out of the incident with no injuries.
North Carolina 18-year-old sacrifices his life, uses his own body to shield 10-year-old from hail of bullets | https://t.co/VwnQ6ovXM1— zellie (@zellieimani) April 3, 2021
Though the death has saddened the community and Bell's family, they are extremely proud of the teenager's heroic act. His mother Izetta Howell stated, "Thank God my son was there to protect the little boy in the back seat." She added, "For him to save his life, that meant the world to me even though my son is gone; but just to know that my son had a heart of gold, it makes it even better to deal with."
However, Howell is struggling to deal with the loss of her son. “It’s heart-breaking but I know my baby died a hero,” said the grieving mother, according to Courier Post.
Parents say Al-Tarrek Bell lost his life shielding a child from gunfire in Edgewater Park https://t.co/lFFlUCwOQs— thedailyjournal.com (@thedailyjournal) April 1, 2021
Referring to him as a "beautiful spirit," she stated, "My baby was a good kid. He was so kind, so very respectful. And witty! He was a comedian."
Bell's sacrifice was also appreciated by the young boy's mother. She praised him and stated her gratitude for him. "I love him, and I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever forget him ever. And I will make sure that his name lives on as the hero that he was," said Jackie Santiago.
Bell was just a month away from celebrating his 19th birthday. His mother stated that the young teenager had many unfulfilled dreams at the time of his death. "He had so many goals," said the mother, alluding to her son's interest in music. "He started writing his music, he started to record. He just never got his chance," said Howell.
“It’s heart-breaking but I know my baby died a hero.” An 18-year-old from N.C. died after someone opened fire on a car he was in with a 10-year-old boy that family says he promised to always protect. https://t.co/F9welSjOVH— FOX 46 Charlotte (@FOX46News) April 2, 2021
She continued, "He was all about going to school, all about making money at his jobs."
Meanwhile, the case investigation is ongoing. Howell hopes to see her son receive justice one day. “It’s hurtful. This guy took a good man away from us. With these guns, they need to put them down," said the devastated mother.