DC 5th-Grader Killed in Sri Lanka Bombings Dreamed of Curing Alzheimer’s - NBC4 Washington

DC 5th-Grader Killed in Sri Lanka Bombings Dreamed of Curing Alzheimer’s

"He was going to do great things for the world and the terrorists have taken something from this world"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    DC 5th-Grader Killed in Sri Lanka Had Big Dreams

    The father of an 11-year-old D.C. boy killed in the Sri Lanka bombings says his son was going to do great things for the world. News4's Aimee Cho reports. (Published Tuesday, April 23, 2019)

    A fifth-grade student from Washington, D.C, who was killed in the Sri Lanka bombings had big dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon and finding the cure for Alzheimer's disease.

    Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa, 11, was on leave of absence from the prestigious Sidwell Friends school, living and studying in Sri Lanka.

    "He would inspire everyone around him to be their best," Kieran's father Alexander Arrow said in an interview with NBC's Today Show.

    Arrow said he called Kieran that Easter morning.

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    "He didn’t pick up and he texted me, 'Can’t talk now dad' because he was ... in the elevator of the Cinnamon Grand Hotel going down to the breakfast buffet," Arrow said.

    That was the last time Arrow heard from his son.

    Less than an hour later, a suicide bomber blew up a backpack in the buffet line.

    Kieran was one of hundreds of people who lost their lives in the coordinated blasts at St. Anthony's Shrine and the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels in Colombo, as well as the two churches outside Colombo.

    They collapsed ceilings and blew out windows, killing worshippers and hotel guests, and leaving behind scenes of smoke, soot, blood, broken glass, screams and wailing alarms.

    The nine bombings killed at least 321 people and wounded hundreds more in Sri Lanka's deadliest violence since a devastating civil war in the South Asian island nation ended a decade ago.

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    "We want Kieran’s story to be known. ... He was going to do great things for the world and the terrorists have taken something from this world," Arrow said.

    "What a wonderful boy he was. What joy he brought to my life, to our life. He was a very special young man. Very special," Kieran's grandmother Luise Shafritz said.

    Arrow said Kieran also loved learning and was always up for a challenge. 

    "He would insist that we would take breaks from our fun activities so that he could study his Mandarin and he got my brother, his uncle and I to help him make flashcards. This was things of his own initiative," he said.

    Kieran was to return to Sidwell to study at the middle school next school year.

    "Kieran was passionate about learning, he adored his friends, and he was incredibly excited about returning to Sidwell Friends this coming school year," the middle school's principal wrote in a letter to parents. "We are beyond sorry not to get the opportunity to welcome Kieran to the middle school."

    Sidwell had counselors on hand to talk about Kieran's death with students and staff when they returned from break Tuesday.

    Most of those killed in the attacks were Sri Lankans. But the three bombed hotels and one of the churches, St. Anthony's Shrine, are frequented by foreign tourists, and Sri Lanka's foreign ministry said the bodies of at least 31 foreigners from a variety of countries were recovered.

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