SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The mother of the man shot and killed at Savannah State University Saturday spoke exclusively to WTOC about the loss of her son.
Twenty-year-old Kaleel Clarke died Saturday at the hospital after the shooting, and his mom Madiha Clarke says she can't really believe he's gone.
She said her favorite memory of Kaleel is her last. He visited her at work on Saturday morning before the shooting.
"He gave me a hug, and I thought it was like one of the best hugs I had," she said. "He came back a little later to give me money to get my lunch, and he asked me, 'Mom are you going to give me a hug?' I said, yeah two hugs are good. Then I saw him leaving out the store, and I'm going to never see him again alive. That's the best memory I got because he was smiling and he was happy."
Madiha said she doesn't know what happened leading up to the shooting, and said her son regularly attended sporting events and activities at Savannah State. Kaleel's older brother is a student at the university.
"You went there with good intentions," she said talking through her son's day. "You went there to relax. You didn't go there to get murdered. You didn't go there to get shot. You didn't come there with nothing to get shot. You came there to have fun. You've been there. You leave there. You go there, you come back home. Now this day, someone else decided that you were not coming back home."
Madiha says Kaleel's nickname was "Smiley" from the time he was a baby because of his big smile. He also battled a cancer-like chronic illness starting in 2011, but Madiha said he didn't let that keep him from being a normal 20-year-old.
"I'm going to miss him forever," she said. "Kaleel is a good person. He needed to be able to live a very long time, and if God didn't take him through the sickness, nobody else should've taken him from this earth either. You don't want to have your child die and have 'Kaleel Clarke: murdered' at a school where no guns should be. At all. He's the fifth person to get murdered out there."
As the mom of five boys and a pseudo-mom to dozens of community kids over the years, Madiha worked to keep them from the kind of gun violence that took her son.
"I worked to make sure he was healthy and good, and then to be taken by three little metal objects for nothing," she said. "For what is what I would like to know. For what?"
She hopes other young people learn from her loss and realize using a gun shouldn't be a solution to a problem.
"I want kids to stop thinking of a gun to resolve situations," Madiha said. "When I was little, they fought a lot, and people broke you up. And you might've fought again, but you didn't take nobody's life from fighting stupidly. You were still alive to talk about it. That's what I need to happen."
She also hopes Kaleel's death spurs better safety measures to keep anyone else from being killed at Savannah State.
"I got four more sons, and I don't want them to be Kaleel either," she said, crying. " I just want things to get better for all the young people, all the young kids, all the young men. That's what I would like to happen. More eyes on all these kids. More ears on all these kids because they're out there. Things are just too loose for them these days. I want to come out of this with not another child killed on that campus."
Madiha said Kaleel was always working to better his life. Now, she hopes to carry on that legacy by making young people aware their lives can be better than gun violence.
The family is also raising money via GoFundMe to help pay for Kaleel's funeral expenses.