UPPER DARBY TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A Delaware County teenager who was recently hailed as a hero for saving children from an icy pond was shot and killed over the weekend.
Police say 17-year-old Anthony Alexander Jr. was shot on the 2400 block of Marshall Road. The shooter told police the gun accidentally went off while being passed around during an Instagram live stream.
Alexander's family is now mourning when they should be celebrating the teen.
He was getting accolades from local, state, and national officials for his role in saving the kids last February, who had fallen into an icy pond in Collingdale.
"By him rescuing those kids, it made his future even brighter," said Alexander's dad, Anthony Alexander Sr. He says his son loved sports, video games, and wanted to be a Marine. The high school junior was just starting to seriously look into going into military service.
"He had so much to live for. He had so much to live for," said Alexander Sr.
"We now have a young man, who as you pointed out, was very heroic last year. He's now dead and you have two families who are dealing with the tragedy," said Jack Stollsteimer, the Delaware County District Attorney.
Police say the bullet struck Alexander and he died from his injuries. Investigators say witnesses and the shooter initially ran away, but police tracked them down. Sixteen-year-old Diamire Hickman turned himself in Monday. He's being tried as an adult, facing charges including 3rd-degree murder.
"Why were these teenage children, why were they able to get these hands on these guns?" said Stollsteimer.
As police investigate, the Alexander family is mourning their youngest child, a teenager whose life was cut short by gun violence.
"Know where your children are and what they're doing in this world, because life is short," said Alexander Sr. "And we are responsible," his wife, Ava, added.
The Alexanders say Anthony had just learned he was going to be awarded a civilian award from the Congressional Medal of Honor society this year for saving the kids from drowning. Instead of celebrating that, they are now planning a funeral.
The superintendent of the Southeast Delco School District, where Alexander was a student in its cyber high school, wrote a letter to families and staff, saying in part, "Many of our students, staff and families knew this student. We are devastated by this loss and are committed to support our school community to the fullest."
Investigators say they are working with the school district and the district attorney's office as they continue the investigation.
Hailed a Hero
Family members confirm to Action News that the victim, Anthony Alexander, is the same teen who helped rescue three children from an icy pond last year on Presidents Day in Collingdale.
Alexander, who was 16 at the time, was hanging out in Collingdale Park with his friends just before 3 p.m. on Feb. 21 when he heard screams coming from two little girls and a boy.
"They really needed help. I wasn't going to sit there and let them drown like that," Alexander told Action News last year.
He first tried to use a stick to rescue the kids before jumping in and pulling out the little boy and one of the girls.
"It was cold," Alexander said. "Like I was shocked, like my body went into shock."
Collingdale Police Sergeant Pat Kilroy and Officer Corey Hansen then arrived on the scene jumped into the pond and rescued the other little girl.
All three were honored during ceremony the following month during a Collingdale Borough Council meeting.
Alexander's parents were beaming with pride.
"He always has the biggest heart in the world and now the world sees that heart," his mother, Ava Alexander, told Action News at the meeting.
"I'm very blessed to have him in my life, very blessed to raise somebody like him," added his father Anthony Alexander Sr.
Anthony Alexander said the ordeal had him considering a career in law enforcement.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Anthony Alexander Jr. was set to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. This story has been corrected to say he was set to receive a civilian award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.