A young athlete with dreams of ice dancing gold was gunned down in a double shooting in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood over the weekend.
Joshua Anthony Soto was shot once in the chest along East Cornwall Street near Kensington Avenue around 3:45 p.m. Saturday. He died minutes later at the scene. He was just 18 years old. Police have not yet identified a motive for the killing.
Soto was a high school grad from Philadelphia's Juniata Park neighborhood. His family says he was just as passionate about ice dancing as he was about the people he encountered.
"Joshua… Joshua was a light," his mother Damaris Perez-Soto told NBC10 Thursday.
Get Philly local news, weather forecasts, sports and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Philadelphia newsletters.
Growing up in the city’s Juniata Park section, ice dancing was an opportunity to represent his country on a global stage, Soto's family said. As a national junior ice dancer, Soto’s goal was to be a Team USA Olympian. He last competed in a junior ice dance national figure skating championship series and was preparing for his next big competition.
"He was one who looked at barriers and said, 'you know what, it may be a challenge for me and someone who looks like me,'" Soto's father Jesus Soto said, "but he didn’t allow that to stop him."
Soto teamed up with Mila Guberman on the ice, competing in the Intermediate U.S. Figure Skating ranks. His skating partner remembered him as "the best skating partner and best friend I could’ve ever asked for."
"You lit up my life, as well as everyone else’s and I’m so mad, sad, and confused at the world for taking you so soon," Guberman wrote on Instagram.
A second young man, who is 18, was shot at least twice and rushed to the hospital in critical condition, Philadelphia police said.
The search for the gunman in the double shooting continued Thursday as Philadelphia police said no arrests had been made.
His family is still in disbelief that Soto was killed.
“I just became numb," his mother said. "I screamed. I cried. I just couldn’t believe it."
To date, there have been at least 473 homicides in Philadelphia, up 11% from the same time last year, which was ultimately one of the most deadly years on record in the city.
There are additional resources for people or communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Further information can be found here.