EDGEWATER PARK — An 18-year-old North Carolina man killed in a Saturday morning shooting in New Jersey is being called a hero for protecting his girlfriend’s 10-year-old nephew from the hail of bullets.

Shots were fired into the parked car at the Orchard Park Apartments in Edgewater Park around 12:20 a.m., fatally striking the driver, Sadiel Gonzalez, 25, who lives at the complex, and rear-seat passenger Altarrek Bell, 18, who was visiting from North Carolina, according to Burlington County prosecutor Scott Coffina.

The other other two passengers  were not injured.

Bell's mother, Izetta Howell, told 6 ABC Action News that her son used his body to shield his girlfriend's 10-year-old nephew.

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Bell, who was shot seven times, was visiting his girlfriend's family in New Jersey, his mother told 6 ABC Action News.

"He shield my son, and made sure he was safe," the boy's mother wrote on her Facebook page. "I will never ever, forget you!! We will keep your name alive you always said to me you got him. You will always protect him and you keep your word. You did exactly that, you gave your life to save his."

Howell told the Cherry Hill Courier-Post her son was a rapper, played drums with his high school band and worked two jobs.

A GoFundMe page was created by Howell's friend, Diane Daniels Hill, to help return her son's body to North Carolina.

"No mother should know what it feels like to have to bury their child," Hill said on the page. "Please pray for her and her family during this horrible time."

No arrests have been made in the shooting. A spokesman for the prosecutor's office did not immediately return a message from New Jersey on Friday morning seeking additional information.

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