Jacksonville boy honored for saving his mother's life after shooting

Child credited with getting help and then identifying suspect to police

By Joy Purdy - 5:30, 6:30 & 11 p.m. anchor, Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A now 6-year-old boy is credited for saving his mother's life -- and for the first time, the young mother and son are talking about a day that changed their lives forever.

Last August, Saman "Sam" Khaleel was 5 when he witnessed his mother, 25-year-old Farah Al Gburi, get shot. Sam ran to a neighbor, a stranger's home, which turned into a life-saving decision.

WATCH:
Uncut interview with Joy Purdy | Morning Show interview with Jennifer Waugh

The shooting

On the morning of Aug. 14, 2018, Farah was walking Sam to school on Jacksonville's Southside. Police say 36-year-old Dheyaa Mohammed shot Farah in the chest and took off.

Sam saw it all. The 5-year-old went to a nearby apartment, and the couple living there dialed 911.

UNCUT: Call to 911

"There's a little boy that came to our apartment," the caller told the dispatcher. "He says that the father shot the mother and the mother's dead and she's laying out in the parking lot."

The couple later turned the phone over to Sam.

Dispatcher:  Hello?
Sam:  Um... my dad, um... My Mommy died.
Dispatcher:  OK, listen to me OK? We got police and rescue comin' to help your mommy, ok? 
Sam: Ok.

As Sam talked with the 911 dispatcher, he was not only able to tell her what happened to his mother, he was also able to describe his father, what his father was wearing and the car he was driving.

Sam: Um... um... my, my daddy shoot her in a gun.
Dispatcher: Where did he shoot her at?
Sam: Um, right there in the neck. 
Dispatcher: In The neck?
Sam: Yes.
  
Dispatcher: What, what color shirt and pants did he have on?
Sam: Um... black. 
Dispatcher: A Black shirt?
Sam: Uh-huh. 
Dispatcher: Did he leave with the gun? Did he leave with it?
Sam:  Yes.
Dispatcher: Ok. 
Sam: Yes. And he try, he try shoot his self.  

It was a distress call to Jacksonville police that sent officers and rescue crews racing to The Kings Crossing Apartments on Old Kings Road South. Rescuers reached Farah in time to save her life.

"I will never forget (Sam's) eyes when he was looking at me," the mother from Iraq explained. "I just told him at that moment, 'Just come let me hug you!' He said, 'No, mom.' He just go (to get help) and just did it for me. It's like a miracle for me."

Lives changed forever

Farah is now paralyzed from the waist down. After the shooting, she spent the next several months in the hospital and then in rehabilitation -- while her son was temporarily placed in foster care.

"All the time I was thinking, 'Where Sam?'" Farah said. "He doing good? He sleeping good? Because me and Sam we always together. We doing everything together."

Before the shooting, she remembers the job she had as a food scanner, which kept her on her feet constantly -- often 10 hours a day. She's now learning how to live with what she calls her "new body."

"It's like a baby when the baby's born," Farah explained, comparing her experience to when a baby discovers for the first time that they can make their hand or head move at will. "I'm trying just to (make my mind) accept that but it's so hard for me." 

But Farah and Sam have each other, and after we spent time with them, it's obvious how close they are.

When we asked Sam why he loved his mom so much, he answered directly, "Because she's my friend." 

Farah says Sam not only watches her every move, he's also very in tune with her mood.

"When he feels I'm sad, he come and play with me," she said smiling as she recalled one particular pep talk Sam gave her. "'Mom, I'm here! Why are you sad? Don't be sad, mom. Laugh. Laugh, mom.'" 

She says Sam motivates her to mask the constant and lingering nerve pain she describes feeling around the clock.

"My injury was here in my lungs," she said, pointing to the side of her chest. "I can't breathe good.  When I sneeze, it just hurts.

"I'm trying to do it for Sam," she said with determination in her eyes and voice, "because if Sam sees (that I need help) to reach (something), he will not be strong. I have to (be) strong. 'See me, Sam, I'm strong!' He will be strong too."

The kindergartner already has plans on becoming a hero full-time.

"He want to be officer!" Farah exclaimed. "He always telling me, 'Mom, I wanna be officer!' and I say, 'OK, you will!'"

Farah says she can easily see it becoming a reality, especially after she watched Sam get sworn in as a Junior Officer last month by Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams in recognition of the bravery and calm Sam displayed while helping his mom the day she was shot.

Sam didn't want to talk to us much about being a hero, but he was eager to tell us about someday becoming an officer.

"I put the bad guy in the jail," he explained about what his job would be as a police officer. "You can't shoot the bad guy, you only put him in the jail."

The shooting suspect

It was Sam's description of his own father to the 911 dispatcher that helped arriving officers recognize and arrest him.

Police say Dheyaa Mohammed drove away within seconds of shooting his estranged wife, but eventually returned to the shooting scene. That's when he was arrested.

News4Jax cameras were there as Mohammed was placed in handcuffs, crying to police, "I killed my wife!"

Mohammed has been charged with attempted murder. During a court appearance last week, he asked a judge to assign him a public defender.

If found guilty, he faces 25 years to life in prison.

Farah says the three of them came to the U.S. in 2016 after Mohammed served as a translator for the U.S. military in Iraq. When the U.S. military presence in Iraq was scaled back, Farah says Mohammed and others helping American troops during the war were offered a chance to live in the U.S. with their families to shield them from retaliation.

Farah says she and Mohammed eventually separated, with Farah and Sam moving out and living in a different apartment complex.

Difficult journey ahead

After the shooting, and after Mohammed's arrest, he was evicted from his apartment. The problem is, Farah's name was still on Mohammed's lease. Now her credit history has taken a hit.

She is now looking to find a local, income-based apartment complex that will accept her. For now, she relies on Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) to pay for her basic needs. She and Sam are living in temporary housing and are eager to find a place they can settle into and call home.

If you have a way to help Farah and Sam, email News4Jax anchor Joy Purdy & Jennifer Waugh.

Because Farah is paralyzed from the waist down, she's also hoping someone can show her where to find the help she needs to secure a vehicle outfitted for her type of disability, as well as a service dog.

Farah says she realizes the road ahead of her will be full of challenges, but she feels comfort because she knows Sam is right by her side.

"He tries to make me stay alive!" Farah exclaimed. "That's why I have to fight for him."

Copyright 2019 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.