Rukiye Abdul-Mutakallim, a 66-year old woman, says her heart was broken when she heard that her son was shot and killed by three robbers. But she does not hate the men who killed her son. Instead, she wants to do everything to make them better.
Her son, Sulliman Abdul-Mutakallim, a 39-year old Navy Veteran, was walking home from White Castle in South Cumminsville while carrying takeouts for him and his wife on the night of June 28, 2015. That same night, under a highway overpass, he was found face-down on the pavement with a gunshot in the back of his head.
The surveillance video shows three robbers committing the horrific crime. One was identified as Javon Coulter who was then just 14-years old. Javon was seen pulling money from the front pocket of Sulliman’s pants after the shooting. Sulliman’s wallet reportedly contained less than $60.
The video showed Javon passing the money to another man who was identified as Valentino Pettis who was 17-years old at that time. The third man was believed to be in his 20s but was never charged.
Javon, Valentino, and the third man then went on taking the food with them.
Rukiye, Sulliman’s mother, has been living with that image of her dying son for years. As a devout Muslim, she believes that there is no goodbye. As she was holding his hand at the hospital, she whispered to her son, “Until I see you again.”
After more than two years, she met with them in the courtroom. Javon and Valentino pleaded guilty in separate court hearings and were sentenced to prison terms.
Courtroom veterans were shocked by what she did next. After asking for the judge’s permission, she walked up to Javon, who just admitted being involved in the killing of her son, and embraced him. She also hugged Javon’s mother.
She wanted them to know that she sees beyond what happened that took her son’s life. She also wanted to regularly visit in prison and promised to do everything possible in order to make Javon a better man.
“His death was already ordained,” she told him. “Maybe the purpose is to save your life.”
She also believes that they are young, they have just been infected by a disease, and they can still be cured.
“Those young men – although they took my son’s life in the manner they did – we need to fight for them. Because they are going to come back out. And they will be older. But if they have no light, then this same disease is going to repeat itself and they are going to take another person’s child’s life and eventually their own,” Rukiye said. “And every mother’s heart must feel this.”
She also believes that revenge will not do anything, it cannot bring back his son’s life.
“We have to fight for them to see that there is a better life,” she said, “and then they have to fight to get to where that better life is.”