Liberian teenager Moussa Fofana’s dreams of playing professional soccer were dashed and his life cut short when he was fatally shot at the Underhill Sports field on June 6, but the shooter remains at-large.
Fofana spent part of his childhood in Liberia before moving to Maplewood community in the United States.
Now, authorities and the community have partnered in the search for information related to his death, with Essex County Prosecutors and a former mayor offering a $20,000 reward.
Police responded to the field near Clinton Elementary School shortly after 9:30 p.m. on June 6, where they discovered 18-year-old Moussa Fofana and a second victim, both suffering gunshot wounds.
Fofana was pronounced dead at the scene almost an hour later, while the second victim was rushed to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
“The most important thing is justice for Moussa,” said former Mayor Fred Profeta, who has added a personal check to bolster the now $20,000 award, offered by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
He continues to raise more funds for the reward from the community, which has been shaken by the killing.
A GoFundMe established in Fofana’s honor for his family’s expenses had already raised over $126,000 from more than 2,000 donors as of Thursday.
At the time of his death, he was a junior at Columbia High School, which serves Maplewood and South Orange.
He played as #25 for the CHS Cougars varsity soccer team and aspired to make it to a Pro-soccer league, according to a statement on the school district’s website.
Teschnie Jean-Pierre, who donated to the family fund, posted to the fund’s site and recalled her first meeting with Fofana, when he asked for some of her candy.
She accidentally poured more than half the bag into his hand by accident, but felt sheepish to take any back and let him keep the handful.
“He said, ‘Thank you new friend, what’s your name again?’” Jean-Pierre wrote.
After she asked why he would want to be friends with a complete stranger, “He told me through his adorable accent ‘I can tell [you’re] a good person, you have a good heart. People like you I wanna be friends with.’”
She wrote, “I’m gonna miss Moussa so much. In the end we weren’t friends, He was family. May his beautiful soul rest in Paradise.”
A “Justice for Moussa” rally has been planned at Columbia High School and will include a march to Underhill Field where he was shot.