The bombing attacks on Easter Sunday killed at least 290 people and injured more than 500

By Helen Murphy
April 23, 2019 08:45 AM

Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa, a fifth grader from Washington, D.C., was reportedly among the American victims of the Easter Sunday Sri Lanka terrorist bombing attacks that killed at least 290 people and injured more than 500.

Kieran’s father Alexander Arrow told NBC News that his son, who would have turned 12 in August, was on leave from the prestigious Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., to live in Sri Lanka, where his mother is from.

Arrow told the outlet that Kieran was eating breakfast at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo at the same time that a suicide bomber detonated a backpack inside.

“Kieran was just a foot in the wrong direction,” Arrow said. Per NBC, both Kieran’s mother and grandmother survived the attack.

Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa
Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa
| Credit: Alex Arrow via KTNV

Arrow described his son as “articulate and insightful and kind.”

“I keep going over the last 11 and a half years and thinking about all of the little memories that we have together,” he said.

In an email to the families of students, Sidwell Friends confirmed Kieran’s death, according to CNN.“Passionate about learning, he adored his friends, and was incredibly excited about returning to Sidwell Friends in the coming school year,” school principal Mamadou Guèye wrote in the email, per CNN.

Arrow told NBC that Kieran wanted to become a neuroscientist. “He wanted to address Alzheimer’s or other great unsolved neurological diseases and I know that he would have done that,” Arrow said.

“I don’t know what is in the mind of a terrorist, but I’m sure they do not know what they took, they do not know what they took from the world,” he added to KTNV.

Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa
Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa
| Credit: Alex Arrow via KTNV

The Associated Press, citing Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism John Amaratunga, reported that 39 foreign tourists were killed in the bombings.

Dieter Kowalski, 40, a Denver man visiting Sri Lanka on a business trip was among the other American victims, his employer, Pearson, confirmed to PEOPLE.

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Six blasts went off simultaneously Sunday morning, targeting Easter mass attendees at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, the St. Sebastian Catholic Church in nearby Negombo, and the Protestant Zion church in the town of Batticaloa, as well as three luxury hotels.

Authorities have so far arrested 24 suspects in the attacks, which they say were carried out by seven suicide bombers, according to NBC News.

The Associated Press reported that a Sri Lankan government official said the bombers were part of a domestic militant group named National Thowfeed Jamaath.