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EDGEWATER PARK, N.J. – A North Carolina teen died after he used his body to shield a 10-year-old from gunfire during a drive-by shooting.

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Investigators said Altarrek Bell, 18, was in a car in New Jersey visiting his girlfriend and her family, when a driver came up alongside him Saturday night and opened fire, WABC reported.

Bell was in the back seat with his girlfriend’s 10-year-old nephew.

“It’s heart breaking, but I know my baby died a hero,” mother Izetta Howell of Skinnersville, North Carolina, told the Courier Post. “I can smile because I know he saved another person.”

Bell died after he was struck by multiple bullets. The driver, Sadiel Gonzalez, 25, was also killed in the shooting.

“For him to save his life, that meant the world to me even though my son is gone; but just to know that my son had a heart of gold, it makes it even better to deal with,” Howell told WABC.

The boy was like a brother to Bell, family said. The 10-year-old’s mother praised Bell.

“I love him, and I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever forget him ever. And I will make sure that his name lives on as the hero that he was,” Jackie Santiago said.

Bell was a talented singer and musician with dreams of moving to Los Angeles or Chicago to pursue his goals.

Police have not made any arrests in the incident.

Two crowdsourced funding accounts were set up for Bell. A family friend set up one, and his father Toriano Arthur, created another to help pay for funeral arrangements.