Bell shielded boy from barrage of bullets

Al-Tarrek Bell

A Washington County man is being hailed as a hero after he sacrificed his own life to save a 10-year-old boy that his family says he promised to protect.

Al-Tarrek Bell, 18, of Skinnersville Township who had attended Washington County High School, was in New Jersey with his girlfriend visiting her family when he was killed March 26.

According to news reports, Bell was sitting in the back seat of a car beside the 10-year-old boy when someone opened fire on their vehicle around 12:20 a.m. in Edgewater Park Township.

Bell was killed along with the driver, 25-year-old Sadiel Gonzales.

Bell’s mother, Izetta Howell of Skinnersville, praised her son’s heroism.

“Thank God my son was there to protect the little boy in the back seat,” Howell told WPVI-TV of Philadelphia.

The boy was uninjured, and a motive for the shooting remains under investigation while police search for a suspect, according to a news release from Edgewater Park Township Police.

The 10-year-old’s mother, Jacqueline Santiago, said Bell “put his life on the line to save” her son.

“He shielded my son, and made sure he was safe,” Santiago wrote on her Facebook page. “I will never ever, forget you!! We will keep your name alive. You always said to me you got him. You will always protect him and you keep your word. You did exactly that, you gave your life to save his. You are your brothers keeper.”

Diane Daniels Hill has established a gofundeme page to assist Howell’s efforts to bring her son home and provide a funeral. See: https://www.gofundme.com/f/altarrek-home-going-service-gone-to-soon-18yrs-old. As of Tuesday, the page had raised $12,480 toward its $15,000 goal.

“I started this go fund me for my friend Izetta Howell who tragically lost her son to gun violence on March 26, 2021 no mother should know what it feels like to have to bury their child please pray for her and her family during this horrible time!” Daniels-Hill wrote on the gofundme page. “If you feel lead to do so please help her with a donation to bring her son home and give him the proper funeral that he deserves this can happen to anyone of us!”

Staff writer Miles Layton can be reached at mlayton@ncweeklies.com