HICKORY, N.C. (WBTV) - Friends and family said Zakylen Harris always had a smile on his face.
The 7-year-old, who attended Southwest Elementary School in Hickory, was known affectionately as “Ky.”
The community gathered Monday evening in Hickory to share stories and mourn over the death of another child.
Ky was shot and killed while riding in his mothers’ car last Wednesday.
Monday night’s candlelight prayer vigil brought out hundreds to Exodus Missionary Outreach Church in Hickory.
“To know Ky was to love Ky,” Ky’s aunt said. “Ky was charismatic, sweet, charming. The sky was the limit to what he could have been. A doctor, lawyer, an astronaut, who knows?”
Ky was going to turn eight years old next month, and there was only one place he wanted to go – to the beach.
“But he’s in a place much better than the beach because I know when that baby took his last breath here, he took his first breath with God,” his aunt said.
Family and friends hugged, tears were shed, and laughs were shared just remembering what Ky meant to them.
Police said Douglas Wilson is responsible for the shooting death of Ky. There were two other young children in the car.
Law enforcement hasn’t released any information on a motive or if it was road rage.
“We must be vigilant together,” Hickory Mayor Hank Guess said. “We must find the strength and perseverance not only to reduce violence but to reduce hatred that fuels it.”
Ky’s uncle reminisced on a conversation about the Fourth of July with his nephew.
“‘You going to let me, and Mari shoot off them fireworks?’ You don’t have to shoot off fireworks off because you’re up in heaven shooting them off,” Ky’s uncle said.
Funeral service for Ky is planned for Wednesday at Exodus Missionary Outreach Church.
Ky was fatally shot while riding in a car with his mother and two other young children around 11:12 p.m. last Wednesday on Tate Boulevard SE near 19th Street SE.
Police say Harris’s mother was driving when someone shot into the car, killing Harris. A 1-year-old and a 6-year-old were also in the car.
Harris was shot in the neck and taken to Catawba Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, police say.
Police arrested 23-year-old Douglas Wilson and charged him with first-degree murder in the death of Harris. He made his first court appearance Friday.
According to Ky’s obituary, he was a student at Southwest Elementary School.
“He never met a stranger and once you met him, you couldn’t help but love him,” the obituary said.
Ky loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, dinosaurs, the color red, candy, the beach and his Headstart teachers.