Bell shielded boy from barrage of bullets

Al-Tarrek Bell

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

Al-Tarrek Bell, 18, of Skinnersville Township who 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. The 10-year-old was not hurt.

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 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 kept your word. You did exactly that, you gave your life to save his. You are your brother’s keeper.”

Diane Daniels Hill has established a gofundeme page to assist Howell’s efforts to bring her son home and provide a funeral. See: As of Tuesday, the page had raised $12,480 toward its $15,000 goal.

Staff writer Miles Layton can be reached at