Sometimes in life, tragedy leaves you speechless. All you can do is shake your head, wondering why something like this could ever occur. There are simply no words for what happened to a high school football player in Philadelphia earlier this month, and your heart breaks without even knowing those involved.
Early Sunday evening, on December 1, the Philadelphia Police Department was called to the 1100 block of North 63rd Street in Overbrook. When they arrived, they found 18-year-old Suhail Gillard with a gunshot wound to the chest. The three-time All-Public League running back for Mastery Charter North High School was taken to Lankenau Medical Center, where he died hours later.
The weapon was recovered at the scene, according to NBC News. The following day, Fayaadh Gillard was arrested and charged with murder, possession of an instrument of crime, unsworn falsification to authorities, and obstruction of justice.
Suhail and Fayaadh Gillard were twin brothers and senior teammates on the Mastery Charter football team, who both recently earned All-Public League honors. Now, the entire Gillard family and Philly community are devastated.
The Gillard brothers’ father had been showing them how to handle a gun when the shooting occurred, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Suhail Gillard Death
Suhail Gillard was a high school football star with college football potential, according to Mastery Charter head football coach John Davidson. He told the Inquirer the football player had “handful of college prospects.”
Tragically, his life ended before it truly got started.
“It’s with grieving hearts that we inform you of the untimely passing of our beloved brother, Suhail Gillard,” Mastery defensive line coach Mickey Grace posted on Twitter. “He was the most respected and hardest worker Mastery ever had the honor and privilege to put a jersey on. Rest well #Agent4 4ever.”
Mastery Charter team captain Trenton Williams told The Philadelphia Inquirer he was “heartbroken” by the news of the star football player’s death.
“I know Fayaadh didn’t do it on purpose,” he said. “I know it was an accident. That’s his twin. His twin would never do that. They had much love for each other. I just cried my eyes out.”
It’s hard to fathom the emotions or what happened at the father’s apartment, but sad doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Following the death of the star player, and after Fayaadh was released on bail, he led a group of students and faculty from the Mastery Charter School Lenfest Campus to Penn’s Landing on Wednesday afternoon while chanting, “Long live Su, long lives Su, long live Su,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
UPDATE (December 11):
Less than two weeks after the tragic death of 18-year-old Suhail Gillard, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has dropped the charges against Fayaadh Gillard, his twin brother.
Suhail Gillard was shot in the chest when the brother’s father, Alem Gillard was teaching them how to load and unload a gun.
Gillard’s attorney, Shaka Johnson, spoke to ABC News following the ruling.
“There are times when a win does not feel like a win because there is no amount of winning that will balance out the loss that this family has seen over the past couple of weeks. It won’t undo the tragedy or the psychological and emotional harm, but it is a step in a step toward healing.
“This young man has lost his innocence in a way that he can never recover. He will require therapy for years to come.”
Although Fayaadh Gillard has been cleared, charges could come against the father.
According to ABC News, Aleem Gilliard is a convicted felon with a “lengthy criminal history.” Gillard is also “paralyzed from the waist down due to gun violence.”
“If you set into motion a series of events that are reckless and likely to cause death, that’s enough to charge a person with murder,” Johnson told ABC News. “I’ve spoken with the DA’s office and I wouldn’t be surprised if they charged him with third degree murder, and they’ll probably hold him without bail.”
No matter what happens, it’s still a tragic situation for everyone involved, especially the family.
This post was originally published on December 5, 2019 before updating.