A recent story out of Jacksonville, Florida, demonstrates the courage and selflessness of one young man, just as it demonstrates the horror and devastation caused by criminal violence.
Last Saturday, a young football coach — conflicting reports list him as either 20 or 21 years old — was transporting a handful of players from a tryout held at the Legends Center and Gymnasium in Jacksonville. The coach and four players, ranging in age from 11 to 15, were all in the car. At some point, the car was shattered with bullets from a drive-by shooting, and the heroic coach dove over the players, using his body to protect them from the violence as well as he could.
The coach, whose name has not been released, was shot 10 times in the incident and has since undergone multiple surgeries to address his injuries, his attorney, John Phillips, stated. As of Wednesday, his condition was considered "critical," though whether his condition has changed since then is unclear.
Thankfully, two of the four boys in the car, ages 14 and 15, were uninjured in the attack. However, 13-year-old Prince Holland was shot and killed in the incident, and an 11-year-old boy sustained serious injuries, though he is reportedly expected to recover.
All who knew and loved Prince are heartbroken about his death. His mother, Chantel Brown, has invited the entire community to his memorial service and has requested attendees wear red and gold — the colors of Prince's beloved team, the Kansas City Chiefs — in his honor.
"His little brother cannot see him every day. His big brothers and big sisters cannot see him. I cannot pick up my baby," Brown told the crowd of about 100 people at a candlelight vigil held for Prince on Wednesday night. "That is the hardest thing. I cannot hold him. I cannot kiss him. I cannot even tell him that I love him."
A family friend identified only as Angel has asked that those who have information about this case come forward to assist in the investigation. "What if it was your son?" she asked. "What if it was your brother? What if it was you? It could have been anybody but instead it was an innocent 13-year-old kid."
Officials across the state have vowed to find those responsible and give Prince and his family the justice they deserve. Thanks to a $5,000 donation from Phillips and $9,000 from Crime Stoppers, there is currently a $14,000 reward offered to anyone with information leading to an arrest.
"This grief has emboldened us and hardened our resolve," said Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters. "To those responsible for this terrible act, know this: We will not rest, we will not tire, we will not waver."
"We will not rest until the people responsible are held accountable," added Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.
State Attorney Melissa Nelson has also designated two attorneys from her office "to focus on these issues and these young men in our community that are committing this violence," Waters claimed.
There are currently no suspects in the case.