RALEIGH, N.C. -- Friends and family of Soheil Antonio Mojarrad gathered Tuesday night near the spot where he was shot and killed by a Raleigh police officer Saturday night.
About 75 people attended the vigil for Mojarrad in the corner of an east Raleigh shopping center near the intersection of New Bern Avenue and Rogers Lane. Tucked away near an opening in the woods beside the shopping center, they placed photos, lit candles and burned incense in memory of their friend.
They remembered him as a giving soul who favored peace over violence. They said his heart was filled with kindness. And they said they did not understand why he was killed.
Mojarrad lived less than 1 mile from the scene.
His parents, Judy and Mehrdad Mojarrad, were greeted and hugged by numerous people. Mehrdad thanked those who came to remember his son.
Mojarrad struggled with mental illness that was compounded by a 2012 accident in Asheville where he suffered a traumatic brain injury, his mother says.
"That really changed him, but he was still so kind and generous," she said. "There was nothing violent about him. He gave. That's what I want people to remember."
Childhood friend Julian Thomas said Mojarrad was always friendly. He was at the vigil and gave Mojarrad's mother a handful of snapshots pulled from a photo album.
"He was always just the kid who was goofing around and trying to make everyone laugh," Thomas said. "He just had a good spirit in general, no matter what he did."
Thomas and Mojarrad grew up in adjacent neighborhoods and went to the same schools, including Enloe High School. They spent a lot of time together, Thomas said.