Dressed for success, 14-year old Najee Thomas was a freshman at Coppin Academy High School, and his friends say he was going places.
"He had good grades. He wanted to be a lawyer. He actually wanted to go somewhere in life," said William Winder, one of the victim’s friends.
Tragically, his life ended in the wee hours of the morning Tuesday with a bullet to the head inside his own home on Roundview Road in Cherry Hill.
"The only thing I know is that at two o'clock this morning, there was a bang on my door telling me to tell my son, Dante, that his best friend was killed, and that he was shot by his stepfather. It was domestic," said Bonnie Farrow.
While police aren't commenting on a motive for the killing or any potential suspect, it's the same story being shared throughout the neighborhood.
"They saw a guy come running out, and he jumped in his girlfriend's car and took off," said Raymond Robinson.
News of Najee's death has struck hard in a community where children have to avoid the lure of gangs, drugs and street violence if they are to secure a bright future.
"This was a kid that would come knock on my door and just say, 'Oh. You fixed spaghetti last night and you didn't tell me you fixed spaghetti? I didn't come to dinner last night?'” recalled Farrow, “This was a good kid, and he was a kid... not a 14-year-old wanting to be 18 and acting like he's 21. He was a 14-year-old."
"No child should ever have to go through that,” said Winder, “No mother should have to go through that. I've seen kids die before, but for it to hit home like it did to me, now I know how it feels."
If you have any information that could help them in this case, you're asked to call 410-396-2100.