12-year-old boy writes letter to family of teen who died saving his life in church shooting

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18-year-old Frederick Cox was shot and killed Nov. 8 during a funeral at the Living Water Baptist Church in High Point, North Carolina. (Courtesy: Tenicka Shannon)

HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — A 12-year-old North Carolina boy penned a heartbreaking letter after a teenager died while saving his life after gunfire broke out at a funeral earlier this month.

At about 3:29 p.m. Nov. 8, police responded to a shooting outside of the Living Water Baptist Church in High Point.

At the scene, officers found Frederick Cox, 18, of High Point, dead. Police also found a few other victims suffering from minor injuries.

Living Water Baptist Church was holding a funeral service outdoors when the shooter opened fire on worshippers.

Tavaris Johnson Jr., 12, and his mother Vivian were putting up plates in the car when the boy was shot in the right hand, according to the pastor.

That’s when Frederick pushed Vivian and her son into the church. 

Johnson recounted the experience in a letter which was read at Cox’s funeral on Saturday.

To Fred’s mom and family,

My name is Tavaris, and I am 12 years old. My mom is Vivian Wright, and she works for the funeral home. I just want to start off by saying thank you. Thank you because your son Fred saved my life. He also saved my mom’s life. On Sunday, November 8th, 2020, when this incident occurred, Fred opened the door for me and my mom so we wouldn’t get hurt. If he had not opened the door and has us go in first, I may not be here today. So thank you for your son’s good heart and sacrifice. I never knew him personally but he still decided to save my life.

I am so sorry that he passed away. I want you to know that you raised your son well and if you want me to be your Godson I will. I love you and your family and I will make sure that I ask God to bless you.

When officers arrived, they saw multiple vehicles speeding away from the scene. Witnesses said a barrage of shots were exchanged between people in the vehicles and people in the crowd outside the church.

Officers located around 60-70 shell casings from weapons of various calibers at the scene.

As of Monday afternoon, police had not announced any suspects in the investigation.

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