A Philadelphia-area teenager hailed as a hero for helping to rescue three children from an icy pond last year has died in an apparent accidental shooting over the weekend, authorities said.
Police in Upper Darby said a group of teenagers and young adults were in a Drexel Hill apartment at about 5 p.m. Sunday when a gunshot fatally wounded 17-year-old Anthony Alexander of Collingdale Borough. A 16-year-old Collingdale youth who surrendered the next day faces third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, weapons and other charges in Delaware county and was being held in lieu of 10% of a $750,000 bail.
Investigators said in an affidavit of probable cause that the youth told police the teens had been live-streaming themselves on Instagram in the apartment while “passing around” two handguns when one of them went off, striking Alexander. His attorney declined comment on the charges Wednesday.
“He was a beautiful child, and this is still not real for me,” Alexander’s stepmother, Ava Alexander, told The Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday. “He saw the good in everybody, and he would always come to someone’s defense.”
On the afternoon of Feb. 21, 2022, then-16-year-old Anthony Alexander was in Collingdale Park when he heard screams coming from two girls and a boy who had fallen through the ice. He tried to use a stick to save them before going into the water himself and rescuing them. He was later honored along with police who assisted by the borough council.
Alexander was to be honored next month with a Citizen Honors award in the Young Hero category of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. “He will continue to be the solo Young Hero awardee” at the March 25 ceremony in Washington, said Kathleen Blomquist, the organization’s executive director of communication.
Family members said Alexander had been looking forward to the trip and was eager to meet the Medal of Honor recipients who would have hung the medal around his neck, the Inquirer reported. The Academy Park junior loved football, basketball and karate and hoped to enlist in the Marine Corps, his stepmother said.
“We have to do something about the gun violence,” Ava Alexander told the newspaper, holding back tears, “because we cannot afford to keep losing our teenagers.”