"A positive light in our world has dimmed, and our hearts are forever saddened," said Suzanne Fein, who taught Moussa Fofana in middle school

By Chris Harris
June 08, 2021 11:11 AM
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Moussa Fofana
Moussa Fofana
| Credit: Facebook

A New Jersey community is mourning the death of an 18-year-old soccer star who was killed Sunday in a shooting that left another teen injured.

Moussa Fofana is being remembered as an intelligent, kind-hearted and gifted young man who had his sights set on playing professional soccer.

The teen - a junior at Columbia High School in Maplewood, who had played soccer every day since he was in middle school - was out with friends on Sunday night when gunfire rang out near the town's Underhill Sports Complex, where he played soccer for his school.

Police responded to the scene shortly before 10 p.m., finding Fofana with a gunshot wound. Thirty minutes later, he was pronounced dead.

A second male student also sustained non-life threatening injuries in the shooting.

No arrests have been made and police are seeking tips.

The New York Times spoke to Fofana's mother, Hawa Fofana, who said she learned from a friend of her son's that he had been shot. She then tried to FaceTime her son, but a police officer answered the call.

"It was like they put cold water over my whole body," the grieving mother said. "I was shocked."

The mother told the Times she immigrated to the United States from Liberia in late 2002. Moussa was born in New York City and then lived in New Jersey for several years. He went to live with his grandmother in Liberia's capital of Monrovia when he was 5, and he returned to the U.S. when he was 11.

Speaking to the Times, Layla Michaelson, a neighbor and Columbia High School senior, said she was shocked anyone would have wanted to hurt Fofana.

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"He was always so sweet," Michaelson said. "He never gave problems to anybody."

Robertson Onyiuke, a family friend, told the paper the teen was "the man of the house."

"We're all still in shock," Onyiuke said. "I loved that boy like a son."

Suzanne Fein, who taught Fofana in middle school several years ago, told The Village Green of Maplewood and South Orange he was "adored and cherished."

"Our community is devastated to learn of this tragic loss of a beautiful soul," she said. "Nothing pleased Moussa more than human connection. A student who never went without a thank you and a kind smile, grateful for all who engaged with him. A positive light in our world has dimmed, and our hearts are forever saddened."

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched online to help Fofana's family.

Maplewood Police have appealed to the public for information, asking that tips be phoned in to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office's Homicide Task Force at (877) 847-7432.