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Vigil held for elementary student shot and killed: 'He left us all heartbroken'

Posted at 11:01 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 08:53:47-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- The families of Short Pump Elementary lit up the school parking lot Thursday for a candlelight vigil just six days after losing one of their own.

Abdul Bani Ahmad was a fourth-grader at Short Pump Elementary. Friends and family described the nine-year-old as the 'Einstein of the family', an incredibly intelligent young man who had a giving heart.

On Friday, his life was stolen from him in a shooting at the corner of Creighton and Nine Mile Road that left two hurt and two dead, including 14-year-old Raquan Logan.

On Thursday evening, the parents and PTA of the school held the vigil, encouraging people to wear blue which was Abdul's favorite color.

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"I’ve never lost a student. It’s not a feeling that I thought I would experience," said Sophia Belletti, who said she taught Abdul when he was in first grade at another elementary school. "Abdul was the sweetest, sweetest. Like the most innovative, quirky little energetic child."

Belletti joined dozens of others laying flowers at a growing memorial by the marquis, where signs read, 'We love you, Abdul,' and 'Love always wins!'

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Following prayer, Abdul's cousin Saja Bani Ahmad tearfully spoke about Abdul, who she said was more like a best friend and little brother.

"He was an amazing young man that always dreamed big," said Ahmad. "He was a man that shared my dream of fighting for freedom and justice. He always talked about his dream to become a judge and bring justice to all."

But justice wasn't found here.

"This world is cruel. You can kill, but you can’t bring someone back to life," Ahmad said. "He left us all heartbroken to know that we won’t see his smile again. The love he gave to all of us will never be forgotten, and the memories we made with him will never leave our hearts."

Memories, like getting ice cream and playing soccer, are ones cousin Omar Mohases said he recalled fondly.

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"He always loved being loved and he would understand the person in front of him too," said Mohases. "Yes, he is an angel. I can say that."

Mohases said his final memory in the hospital learning his cousin had passed kept replaying in his head.

"Every time I remember him, I can’t even sleep," said Mohases.

At Thursday's vigil, family members called for action for the life they can never get back.

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"I believe we should do something about the guns in our community," said one family member.

"Children having guns in their hands? A weapon that could murder someone, that could ruin a family. No just no," Ahmad said.

Four suspects have been arrested in Friday's shooting including three 17-year-olds and an 18-year-old.

A GoFundMe for Abdul’s family has already raised more than $12,000.