Taisha Mercado made a vow Monday as friends and family mourned her 13-year-old son Nathaniel Plummer Jr., who became Camden's first homicide victim of the year last week.
"My son isn't the first individual who has died from gun violence, from gang activity," she said. "He's not the first but I guarantee you as long as I have breath in my body, it's gonna end.
Police found Plummer lying on the sidewalk on the 2900 hundred block of Line Street, near Beacon Avenue, Thursday night suffering from a gunshot wound. He was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Mercado said her son told her he was going to his grandmother's house nearby to get his phone and clothes earlier that night but never returned.
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While Mercado says she's not exactly sure what led to her son's death, she also told NBC10 Facebook posts he made before his shooting may hold some clues.
"Some of his friends told him not to go with the young lady he thought was his friend," Mercado said.
That young lady, a 16-year-old girl, surrendered to police Saturday morning, investigators said, though it wasn't in relation to Plummer's death. Officials say she faces attempted murder charges stemming from an Oct. 30 shooting of a man on nearby Mickle Street.
Mercado says she was in contact with the girl, who has not been identified due to her being a minor, after Plummer never returned home. She also said the girl didn't deny being with her son the night of his death.
"It was confirmed by her," Mercado said. "She texted my phone and I texted her. I texted her and I asked, 'where did you drop my son off?'"
Later that night, Mercado was met by police at her door who delivered the devastating news.
"I prayed to God every day to keep him safe, keep him safe, keep him safe," said Mercado, a single mother who also has two daughters, ages 10 and 5. "That was my first born. My one and only son. He means everything to me."
Next week would have been Plummer's 14th birthday.
No one has been charged in Plummer's death. Anyone with information is asked to contact Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Det. Pete Longo at (856) 580-5854 or police Det. Gordon Harvey at (856) 757-7420 or email prosecutors.
Camden, a city of 77,000 residents across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, is among the most impoverished in the nation and has long struggled with crime. Thirty-two people were killed in the city last year.