Who was Moussa Fofana? NJ student and soccer star, 18, shot dead on school field
'He would just make my day 10 times better,' his soccer teammate shared
ESSEX COUNTY, NEW JERSEY: An 18-year-old student from Columbia High School in Essex County, New Jersey has been killed in a fatal shooting on Sunday, June 6, 2021, while another student was injured. Moussa Fofana, a high school junior and well-known soccer star in the school, was at the athletic field in Maplewood when shots were fired by an unidentified gunman. He died around 40 minutes later at the same spot. Meanwhile, the other student who was shot in the leg was rushed to a local hospital and survived.
The shooting incident has not led to any arrests so far as the police continue their investigation. Columbia High School mourned his tragic untimely death, acknowledging that a few school students "were in a horrible situation" on that night at Underhill Field. "This inconceivable calamity is undoubtedly a devastating blow to our students, staff, and community," School Superintendent Dr. Ronald Taylor wrote in a statement to the parents.
Remembering Moussa Fofana, one of his middle school teachers Suzanne Fein said, "Moussa was adored and cherished at MMS (Maplewood Middle School). Our community is devastated to learn of this tragic loss of a beautiful soul. 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."
Who was Moussa Fofana?
According to CBS New York, Fofana was an 11th-grade student from Columbia High School who was on his way to a friend's house at the time of the shooting. They were headed to another house for watching a late-night boxing match. The two teenagers took a shortcut through the school field. Moussa left his home in Maplewood on the night of June 6, without having any idea that it would be the last time he ever saw his mother.
His mother Hawa Fofana is a local hairstylist who owns Hawa Place of Fashion. She is often hailed as the "best hair braider in town" by locals, and is well-respected for her sincere and hardworking nature. While she worked, Moussa often looked after his younger brother after his school hours.
On the fateful night of June 6, Moussa reportedly hugged his mother tightly and kissed her goodbye before leaving home. Recounting the haunting moment, Hawa told NJ, "He gave me a hug and I'm like, 'You're choking me'. He said, 'Mommy, I'm just going to give you a kiss."
Moussa was a rising soccer star at his school and was loved by everyone for his upbeat personality. "Every single time when I was stressed out, he’d walk up to me and he would just sit with me and he would talk to me about it. He would just make my day 10 times better," his teammate Joshua Billec shared with CBS. Another friend Joseph Fabiano added, "If you didn’t have money for lunch, he would pay for his lunch. He was a very sweet dude," while Moussa's neighbor Janae Allen called him a "really good person".
Well-wisher Frederik Hoffman started a GoFundMe in Moussa Fofana's honor to support his mother at the time of crisis. The fundraiser has raised more than $74,000 while the original goal was $5,000. The GoFundMe description read:
"My name is Frederik and I am fundraising for Moussa Fofana’s family so that they can recover from their tragic loss and cover funeral expenses or any other burdens that came with this tragedy. We played soccer together for Columbia and played pickup games at under hill this young man was so bright and had big aspirations of becoming a professional soccer player, the community and I are lost for words. I am in contact with moussas family and close friends and will make sure the money is given directly to them. Please donate whatever you can as every dollar will help Moussa’s family. All of the money will be going straight to the fofana family. Long live Moussa."
According to Maplewood residents, such incidents of violence are very rare in their area which is known to have a 'family-friendly environment'.