OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - A grieving father is asking for prayers from the Auburn-Opelika community as they cope with the shooting death of his son Jakell Mitchell, and the potentially criminal prosecution of the people responsible for ending his life.
"Jakell was my second gift from God, you know," Mario Mitchell said. "A long time ago, I asked God for three sons and I got exactly that three sons."
Mario Mitchell says it still hasn't hit him his middle son, 18-year-old Jakell, is gone.
"He was just a great spirit. A great spirit when he was born you just looked at him and you know he was going to be something he was going to be somebody and at five years old we knew what he wanted to be and that was to be a football player," Mitchell said.
Described as humble and dedicated, Jakell was a star on and off the football field at Opelika High School.
"Most people that came into contact with him loved him, talked about how mannerly he was, how he respected his elders and that is how he was raised," Mitchell said.
In his senior year, Jakell injured his knee and had to sit out as an Opelika Bulldog, but Jakell had already won over Auburn University, thanks to advice from his father.
"I told him when he was young to make people love you when you are young so if something happens to you your senior year, you will be okay, and that's the very thing that happened to him, he tore his ACL, but Auburn stayed committed [and] true to them being a family, and I remember Coach Malzahn called and said don't worry about it, you will still a part of the Auburn family, and man, were we looking forward to next year when he started playing and doing some big things inside Jordan-Hare," Mitchell said.
Early Sunday morning, dreams of football stardom, a family, children, maybe even boys of his own, ended for Jakell and his family, when the Pre-Liberal Arts major just a few weeks away from his 19th birthday was shot and killed at an Auburn apartment complex.
His father wants justice for a life cut short by gunfire.
"I am heartbroken, Glad I trust God, I am glad I trust God for more than obvious reasons so with that in mind I hope they get the guy that I hope he knows, I hope his family knows that he has torn a family apart, ripped half of my heart out of my chest, that is the only reason I get up in the morning is for my boys," Mario Mitchell said.