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'My son thought he was coming home': Atlantic Beach mother remembers son who died in shooting

Travaj Cheek died Sunday at the age of 18. "I just hear him telling me ma, I'm okay. I'm still here," his mother said.

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. — The video attached to this story is from a previous, related report.

Family have identified 18-year Travaj Cheek as the young man shot early Sunday morning at an apartment complex in Atlantic Beach.

In an exclusive First Coast News interview, his mom spoke about the young man and the shooting that took his life.

“He was an all-around entertainer. He's been winning talent shows since he was in kindergarten," Lisa Sanders, mother to Travaj Cheek, said.

Lisa Sanders and her family of five moved from North Carolina to Atlantic Beach 15 years ago.

“We've been down here for a long time. And this is the first time that I can remember something like this even happening. And for it to be to my son. You know what I mean? I just can't believe it," Sanders said.

Jacksonville police responded to the 500 block of Orchid Street early Sunday morning where they found a man suffering from at least one gunshot wound. He was rushed to the hospital where he was declared dead.

Multiple neighbors say they saw a party going on at the Orchid Trace Apartments the night of the shooting. The last time Sanders saw her son was when he left to check on his girlfriend who was at the party.

“My son thought he was coming home. He left my front door open. He took my other son’s car. He thought he was coming home. I know that for a fact. He did not think that that was going to happen to him," Sanders said.

RELATED: Victim in Atlantic Beach shooting was five days from his 19th birthday, mother says

One young man, who has asked to remain anonymous, says his sister is Travaj's girlfriend.

“My sister went out with her friend, went to a party. Her boyfriend, Travaj, ended up coming, to see what was going on. Obviously, an altercation happened. They ended up shooting. He was shot," a friend of victim said.

Ring camera footage sent to first coast news from a neighbor shows the moment police arrived.

This 911 call recorded the frantic moments when a female called for help.

She can be heard saying "No, baby, please don’t leave me.”

Cheeks died just five days before his 19th birthday. Sanders doesn’t know who shot her son, but is hopeful that someone at the party will come forward and bring justice for her family.

“He was a good, good person, positive energy. So that's how I'm really able to be so strong right now because I just hear him telling me, ma I'm okay. I'm still here with you," Sanders said.

Police were interviewing suspects at the time of the shooting.

Anyone with information is asked to call the JSO non-emergency number at 630-0500 or crimestoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS or they can submit an email via jsocrimetips@jaxsheriff.org.


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