Tag: Forgiveness

The ‘Priest’ Who Shot The Pope.

The ‘Priest’ Who Shot The Pope.

Mehmet Ali Agca greets St. Pope John Paul II, after the Holy father paid him a visit in prison.

The Priest Who Shot the Pope.

Have you heard the news?

Mehmet Ali Agca expressed his wish to become a Catholic priest. If you don’t know who Ali Agca is, or if you have forgotten; I will tell you. Agca is a fifty eight year old Turkish national, who was neither involved in the recent attack on the airport in Istanbul, nor the attempted coup. But on Wednesday 13 May 1981, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima and the anniversary of the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Agca it was, who showed up at St. Peter’s Square with a determination to change the course of history; he had come to kill the Pope who later became a Saint.

Ali Agca shot St. Karol Jozef Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) four times before he was overpowered and arrested. A brave nun rather than scamper off at the sound of gunshots and the sight of a badly wounded Pope, actually participated in the physical takedown of Agca. For his efforts, and on account of murders he had previously committed, he served time until 2010. 

During that time, Pope John Paul II visited him in prison, forgave him, met his mother, and his brother, and pleaded Agca’s cause for leniency. On his part, Agca wrote to a very ill Pope John Paul II shortly before the Pontiff’s death in 2005 and has visited the tomb of the late Pope. Let us say that the story of Pope John Paul II and Ali Agca is the story of violence, of repentance and of forgiveness.

Now, Ali Agca wants to be an Apostle Paul. At fifty eight, he wants to become a priest. He has told the world via an interview on Italian Television “Canale 5” that he would, if Pope Francis permits, pray with the Pope and become a priest.

“After John Paul II visited me in prison, I thought about it, and I studied the Gospel at length, I know the sacred books better than many others. If the Pope welcomes me, I’ll be a priest and I will celebrate Mass, if he wants me.”

Becoming a priest is not the only desire of Ali Agca along the path of his spiritual journey. There, he hopes to pray with Pope Francis. “I’ll pray there, maybe even together with the pope, to the Madonna, my spiritual mother”. 

The picture of Ali Agca in Portugal, standing next to Pope Francis in the midst of Cardinals, praying to Our Lady will be beamed via satellite to a startled world -the wonders of God’s ways on display. 

A kiss of peace and a warm embrace with the world standing still to salute its latest wonder. In this age of new media, the picture will be tweeted and re-tweeted, posted on YouTube and Facebook, on Instagram and on whatsapp.

It is to the matter of his priestly vocation that I return. If Pope Francis accedes to his request, Ali Agca will presently enrol in a seminary and following requisite formation be ordained a Deacon, and then a priest. Depending on whether he is a missionary priest, or one incardinated in a Diocese, his superior or his Bishop will post him to a pastoral assignment. 

His homily will be laced with personal examples and stories of a lifetime of ironies. “Fr. Ali Agca” will hear confessions and officiate as a minister of the Eucharist. When he shall have proved himself as worthy of the Bishop’s trust, he may be assigned to administer the sacrament of confirmation on behalf of the Bishop. His parish, or station if he is in an outstation, will host not just worshippers; many will come just to see the priest who shot the Pope.

I can hear many saying God Forbid that he becomes a Priest, but it does not depend on us. Ali Agca is awaiting words from the Pope, and although it is most unlikely that he will receive the much awaited Papal nod, his life is only a reflection of the vagaries of our own human existence. If my catechism teacher is to be believed, then many of us have shot the Pope in our thoughts and in our words; in deeds and misdeeds not directly related, but equally injurious to faith and morals.

Forgiveness, Survival And Hope: A Holocaust Survivor’s Touching Story

Forgiveness, Survival And Hope: A Holocaust Survivor’s Touching Story

We can only imagine it: the noise, the confusion. A horror movie come to life – but far, far worse.

In 1944, a young girl and her family arrive by cattle car at Auschwitz.  As they exit, people are selected on the spot for life or death.

People crying, pushing, shoving, dogs barking, everyone trying to make some sense of where they were, and why they were there. Some, still in denial. Others, not yet resigned to the truth of the situation, but somehow thinking they may yet live.

The little girl turns around, looking at it all, taking it all in, trying to figure out what place this is. As she turns back towards her family, she realizes that her father and two older sisters are gone, never to be seen again.

In the middle of all the chaos, a Nazi officer scans the shuffling crowd – eyes darting from person to person, child to child -searching for something specific.

His gaze settles on the little girl, her sister and their mother.  Then, above the life or death din, he yells “Zwillinge! Zwillinge!

“Are they twins,” he demands.

Her mother asked, “Is that good?”

“Yes,” the Nazi says, “it was good.”

Her mother, thinking it was a way to save them – and not knowing the truth behind his question – confirms they are twins. The slow shuffle is gone, replaced by rapid movement. The girls forcefully 

pulled to the right, their mother to the left.

“All I remember seeing,” she says, “is my mother’s arms, outstretched in despair, as she was pulled away.”

She couldn’t say goodbye to her mother. She didn’t understand what was going on, what was happening. Nor did she know that this was the last time she would ever see her mother. Her whole family was gone. All that remained was her and her twin sister.

They were scared, worried, unsure of what was to come, or of the hell, they would soon endure.

Then, they met Dr. Josef Mengele, the Angel of Death.

“Doctor” Mengele would perform hideous experiments on twins. His goal was to find a way to every German woman to give birth to twins.

Every morning Mengele would come and count his twins, to see how many guinea pigs he had that day. After his count, the testing, the experiments would begin. This was the life of this girl and her sister.

The girl? She is Eva Mozes Kor, a survivor of both Mengele and Auschwitz.

We’ve all heard or read stories about the Holocaust. How the Jewish people were taken from their homes, forced to work in camps with very little food and water. They would quickly become emaciated, marked for death. Others, the children and elderly, were sent to death camps, and “showers.”

The goal of the Nazi government, towards the Jewish people, was simple: get rid of all Jews in society. Overworking them, underfeeding them, and intentionally murdering the Jews occurred in all of the camps.

Of all the camps, Eva found herself in Auschwitz.

Auschwitz had only one major purpose, and that was to kill as many Jews as possible.  We all know this. These are facts that have been established time and time again. Talking about these things is not why I wanted to speak to Eva Mozes Kor. I wanted to ask her about hope.

How did she find hope then, and how can we find hope today?

“There is a lot of hope in the world,” Eva said after I told her the subject of my article. “I am not exactly sure,” Eva began, then paused.

“There are two ways of looking at it. When a person, when I was between life and death, I don’t think the word is hope.”

Thinking about that period in history, the senseless murder of so many, I must agree. Maybe then there is a different word, something other than hope.

“The word is that I was not going to die,” said Eva. “I never ever, from the moment I saw the first dead body, I made a solemn pledge that I will not die, and my sister and I will walk out of the camp alive.”

Eva says that is a very important thing, this way of thinking, the philosophy on this subject.

“That is a very important thing; my philosophy is that we control only what is going into our minds. We do not control, often, what is happening around us and what’s being done to use. But we are always able to control our minds.”

Again, she is right. We can control our minds, what we think, how we react, and what we feel.

Far too many people are allowing their minds to be controlled by what others tell them, by the defeatist logic of others.

In the camps during World War II, even there, some people took some perverse joy in telling their fellow Jews they were going to all die. That may have led some to resign themselves to a fate decided by another, and the eventual loss of their life.

Now, I am not saying that if one kept a positive mindset they would have survived the Holocaust. But controlling what you thought, controlling what went into your mind, I think could have helped just a bit. Maybe I’m wrong; I don’t know.

For Eva, it worked.

“The fact that I was able to put into my mind the decision, from that silent pledge, that I would survive, and my sister would survive also,” says Eva. “From that moment on, my mind was doing what I put into there.”

“That is an interesting thing,” Eva continues. “I get up every morning, for the last two years and I say ‘wow, I’m still alive. That’s pretty good. Let me see what I am going to do.’ And what I am going to do is always put something positive in my mind. You can call it hope, but I am calling it more than hope.”

Eva calls it a reason to live.

“What is hope?” Eva asks. “To put a positive thought in your mind. When one is facing death, the positive thought in the mind is to survive.”

Eva says that when you put the thought – the positive thought in your mind – you need to do an exercise for yourself.  “Put in your mind, for five minutes, something negative,” she says, “and see how your mind is going to act.”

Her next step?

“Then, for an exercise, put in your mind I am going to do something good. I am going to do something to make the world better,” she says. “I don’t know exactly what. But, I am going to put in something that I am going to do that.”

Then she says your mind will come up with all kinds of ideas for doing something good, something positive.

I did this. Since speaking to Eva, I start each day with a positive thought. I think what I will do with this day that is positive and can make a positive impact. For the first few days, after placing the positive thought there, I thought of something negative for five minutes.

Dwelling on the negative, even for those few minutes, led me down a path of despair. I found that just one negative thought would lead to others, which would take me deeper into despair.

Now, I start each day with that positive thought, thinking what I can do to change the world for the better.

“Your mind is going to come up with all kinds of ideas,” says Eva. She’s right, it does. It acts on what you allow into it. “It’s an amazing organ,” she says of the brain.

“Everything good that happens in the world, of course, bad too, but if you put good things in your mind good things will happen,” she said.
“That is the way I understand it today,” Eva says.

“That was an instinct,” she adds, “that when I saw the dead bodies, the children on the floor, I said I was not going to end up there, and I was going to do everything for me and my sister to survive and walk out of this camp alive.”

For Eva, every time things became worse for her when she faced a bad situation in the camp, her thought was that she was not going to die.

Before long, she was put to the test.

“The most amazing thing was,” she recalls, “that when I was injected with that deadly germ, which I still do not know what it was, I was actually crawling on the barrack floor because I was between life and death. From the time I put that thought in my mind, I had made a second silent pledge.

When Mengele said I have only two weeks to live, I knew he was right, but I refused to accept it.”

It was then she said she was going to prove him wrong and walk out of the camp and reunite with her sister. At this point, Miriam, her sister, was in the barracks assigned to twins. Eva was in the barracks for the living dead.

What Mengele did was a test on one twin and use the other as the baseline. In this case, Eva was used as his “test” subject.

“On the other hand,” says Eva, “this very, very dramatic event always serves for me as a point of strength. I tell myself that if I can survive that, I always tell myself, I can survive anything.”

She’s right. How often do we complain about something we are going through, something we are experiencing that is not all that bad? We complain about traffic, the lines in Walmart. We complain about our jobs, our rate of pay. Things could be worse.

Writing for the Herald-Post, I’ve met some amazing people, like Greg Wickenburg – a photographer who is a quadriplegic. Or, the people of Victims Legacy – who lost family members to drunk drivers.

These people have had it worse than me. If they can make it, if they can continue, so can I.

“The word hope,” says Eva, “is a lot more deliberate in your mind [speaking of me] than it was in mine [speaking of herself back in 1944]” She didn’t want to die and end up among the vast numbers who were killed during the Holocaust. She wanted to walk out of that camp alive.

“I’m not sure you can call it hope,” she says. “It’s a decision when you are between life and death.” Eva admits she had no idea how to survive Auschwitz. I don’t think anyone knew.

Many others, not just Jewish people, ended up in Auschwitz, not all survived.

According to the United States Holocaust Museum, the best estimates of the number of victims at the Auschwitz concentration camp complex, including the killing center at Auschwitz-Birkenau, between 1940 and 1945 are: Jews (1,095,000 deported to Auschwitz, of whom 960,000 died); Poles (147,000 deported, of whom 74,000 died); Roma (23,000 deported, of whom 21,000 died); Soviet prisoners of war (15,000 deported and died); and other nationalities (25,000 deported, of whom 12,000 died).

It is estimated that the SS and police deported at least 1.3 million people to the Auschwitz complex between 1940 and 1945. Of these, the camp authorities murdered approximately 1.1 million.

Eva and her sister could have very easily become one of the many who was murdered.

“But that thought,” she says of wanting to live, “was very strong, very powerful as it was overriding everything.”

Everyday Eva wakes up and is glad she is alive. To herself, she says just that, “I’m alive, that’s good. What good thing can I do today.” It’s this that guides her life now, and she’s doing just that.

At eighty-four years old she is working to bring change to the world. She lectures at the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center, which she founded. She also travels all over delivering lectures about the Holocaust. That’s not all.

On Twitter, she has advocated for peace in Iran during their demonstrations and struggled for freedom.

She even began to hear back from some of the protesters in Iran. They expressed their joy and happiness that someone was listening to them and sharing their message.

“So, what I am saying to you,” says Eva, “every morning, every day, you want to do just one nice thing, for somebody, to make a difference in somebody’s life. First of all, when you do it, it will make you feel very good, that you have the power to do something good. And that’s already a plus, right?”

It is, it’s already a plus knowing you can do this!

“Whose control is that,” asks Eva. “You are controlling what you put into your mind. Everybody controls what they put into their mind.”

Eva shared with me something from a lecture she gave last week* to a group at the museum.

“Every single one of your minds is different from the others,” she began. “Every single one of you can put something good in your mind. Can you imagine what we can do with that? It doesn’t take any money. It doesn’t take a very big effort. It just takes the knowledge that you really are in charge of your own mind.”

Can you imagine what would happen if we started our day with a positive thought? If we started our day with the idea of doing something good for someone else, and then going out and doing it? We would begin, in our way, to change the world for the better.

We can make it happen.

“What I really think, instead of putting hope, that I would say that I am not willing to give up on my life or my happiness,” says Eva. “And that thought always keeps me going. I am an unbelievable optimist. I always am convinced in my heart that things will turn out okay. That doesn’t mean that the will always have, but I believe the will.”

This is one of the many truths I learned from Eva. That we should never give up, never lose sight of our happiness, that we should start our day positively. Every day is a new day to start fresh.

“If you call that hope,” Eva said, “fine.”

Another lesson I learned, and I do want to share this here because – to me – it is rather amazing, is the gift of forgiveness.

Can you imagine forgiving a Nazi doctor, who knew how the gas chambers operated, after you survived the camps?

Eva did just that!

“How does this happen?” Eva began. “He was willing to meet me, and tell me, and I never even planned to ask him how the gas chambers operated. That just popped into my head when I was sitting with him. And when he told me how the gas chambers operated, I said I want you to come with me to Auschwitz, I’m going there in 1995, and I want you to sign a document at the ruins of the gas chambers, where it happened, and I wanted witnesses there when he signed it.”

She said she didn’t know it was going to be so easy, to ask him to do this. He agreed, and in 1995 they met at Auschwitz. He signed the letter, about how the gas chambers worked. That act and agreeing to talk about what he knew was phenomenal, it was important. Eva  made it happen.

Here was a Nazi doctor, admitting, and signing his name to a document, that shows these events happened, and how they happened. Such testimonies are important. Why? As Eva says, as I’ve heard, there are those who say the Holocaust never happened, that it was just a Jewish invention.

In return, she wondered what she could give to this doctor.

“I wanted to thank this Nazi doctor,” she said, “for his willingness to document the gas chamber.”

She knew it was a crazy idea, a survivor thanking a Nazi. So she didn’t tell anyone about it.

“I was worried they would convince me, and talk me out of it,” she recalls. “They would say, ‘what are you, nuts? Crazy?’ “

“So, I was on my own, for ten months,” she says. “I was cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, driving the car. Every morning I would brainstorm, by myself, how can I send Dr. Munch, what can I give Dr. Munch.”

She is talking of Dr. Hans Munch; a member of the Nazi Party who worked at Auschwitz from 1943 to 1945. You can see the document he signed here

“Of course, a lot of crazy ideas, and not so crazy ideas popped into my head,” recalls Eva. “But none seemed appropriate.”

Then, ten months later, she had an idea.

“One morning I woke up and the following, simple idea popped into my head,” she says. “How about a letter of forgiveness from me to Dr. Munch. I immediately know that that was a meaningful gift for Dr. Munch and that he would like. But what I discovered for myself was life-changing.”

How did it change her life?

I discovered,” says Eva, “that I had the power to forgive. No one could give me that power; no one could take it away. It was all mine to use it in any way I wished.”

Of course, not everyone has liked that she offered forgiveness to Dr. Munch.

There are those, within the various Jewish traditions, that feel one must not only repent but ask for forgiveness for it to be given. Eva, on the other hand, didn’t like that someone told her that he hated her act of forgiveness simply because Dr. Munch never asked for it.

“I didn’t know that,” “but I am asking you a question, would Mengele, Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels be alive today, do you think they would repent and ask forgiveness.”

Of course, the person she was talking to said that was absurd. We all know that they would not have repented nor asked for forgiveness.

“I said, you know what,” Eva recalls, “I refuse to be a victim for the rest of my life.”

“I refuse to be a victim,” says Eva. “I would like to pass an amendment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that every human being on the face of this earth has the human right to be happy and be free from any past pains imposed on them. Because I declare that I am happy and I am free. I would like everybody to know that. I further state that I have found the secret to world peace, forgiveness.”

From Eva, from our conversation, I have learned that forgiveness is a powerful thing.

Before my conversation with her, I had a very different mindset. I found it hard to forgive; I found it hard to not let the cares and worries of yesterday spill over into today.

Then there is all the political intrigue, the wars, hunger, homelessness. I also found it hard to see anything positive in this world we live in. How can there be?

That has changed.

I have begun to start my day by being especially thankful that I am still alive. I have life, so I can do something positive for someone else. Each morning I think of one way that I can do that. If I decided to feed someone who is hungry that day I will go out of my way to make that happen. Whatever I chose I feel happy for having done it.

Then there is my past. All the things done to me at the hands of those who should have loved me, nurtured me, cared for me, I’m not going to let them victimize me any longer. I am not going to let them have control over me, all these years they have been dead, those years being a victim have been a waste. Not any longer. I have found a way to forgive them.

These are things we can do. Wake up with the realization that you have the power to do something good, something positive, and do it. You may not see it right away, but it will begin to make a difference in your life, and the lives around you.

Then, if you’ve been carrying past pains, hurts, memories, forgive that person. By holding on to those things, you continue to allow them to victimize you, to control you.

As Eva said during our conversation, they are still holding you hostage. Free yourself by forgiving them and moving on.

For the last week, I’ve been doing this. I’ll tell you; I am a happier person. Over time, I will be a better person for this. I give Eva the credit for this change in me.

“If you teach children to read and write and arithmetic,” says Eva, “I am in the process of working with a professor to teach children, at young age, to forgive. A person who forgives is free of all the pain and burden, and they are in charge of their life. I call forgiveness an act of self-healing, self-liberation, self-empowerment. I don’t need anybody’s approval, anybody’s acceptance, anybody’s permission. I can do it because I want to be free, and I believe I have the human right to be free.”


There is a new documentary about Eva coming out. For more information, click here. You can also follow Eva on Twitter  or on her Facebook Page

*This story ‘Survival, Hope And Forgiveness: A Holocaust Survival Story’ was originally published in March 25, 2018 by Steven Cottingham on the blog El Paso Herald post. 

Watch Video – Pope Francis Goes For Confession To Kick Off The #24HoursForTheLord At Vatican

Watch Video – Pope Francis Goes For Confession To Kick Off The #24HoursForTheLord At Vatican

Pope Francis, At his annual Lenten penitential service on Friday, said that it is not God who abandons us when we sin, but we who separate ourselves from him by choosing to sin, and that no matter what we do, God never stops loving us.

“We know that the state of sin distances us from God. But in fact, sin is the way that we distance ourselves from him. Yet that does not mean that God distances himself from us,” the Pope said March 9.

“The state of weakness and confusion that results from sin is one more reason for God to remain close to us,” he continued. “The certainty of this should accompany us throughout our lives.”

Pope Francis gave a brief homily during an annual Lenten penitential service in St. Peter’s Basilica. He reflected on a passage from the first letter of John, which speaks about God’s love for his children.

God’s love is greater than anything we can imagine, reaching beyond even the worst sins we find within us, he said.

Following the homily, Pope Francis led a silent examination of conscience. Then, as in other years, the Pope was the first to go and make his confession to a fellow priest before hearing the confessions of several others.

Other priests were also available throughout the basilica to hear individual confessions.

The penitential service also marked the beginning of the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative held yearly on the fourth Friday and Saturday of Lent.

Led by Pope Francis, “24 Hours for the Lord” is a worldwide initiative that points to confession as a primary way to experience God’s merciful embrace. It was launched in 2014 under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.

The event gives Catholics an opportunity to go to confession and take part in Eucharistic adoration at participating churches. This year’s theme is “With you is forgiveness” taken from Psalm 130.

Earlier on March 9, Pope Francis spoke to participants in the Apostolic Penitentiary’s annual course on the internal forum, which is attended primarily by young priests, seminarians, and penitentiary priests specifically appointed to hear confessions and administer penance.

This year, ahead of the Synod of Bishops on youth, the course focused on the relationship between sacramental confession and vocational discernment.

In his speech, Francis noted how young priests have an “advantage – so-to-speak” when it comes to hearing the confessions of other young people, a proximity of age “favors even sacramental dialogue.”

On the other hand, there are limitations and challenges to being at the beginning of their ministry and therefore lacking in the experience of an older confessor, he said.

With these thoughts in mind, he asked, how do we go about listening to sacramental confessions, especially of the young, when it comes to vocational discernment?

“First of all, I would say that it is always necessary to rediscover, as St Thomas Aquinas says, the instrumental dimension of our ministry,” he said. 

“The priest confessor is not the source of Mercy or of Grace; he is certainly the indispensable tool, but always just an instrument!”

Being intentionally aware of this can help keep priests from becoming what Francis called “masters of consciences” instead of humbly listening to the Holy Spirit. He emphasized that seeing oneself as an instrument is not a lessening of the priest’s role in confession, but “the full realization of [the ministry].”

The Pope also stressed that confessors should listen carefully to any questions before offering answers, and when these two elements come together in sacramental dialogue, it can help to open up the journey of prayer and prudence that is vocational discernment.

Concluding, he encouraged the present and future confessors to be “witnesses of mercy, humble hearers of young people and God’s will for them, always respectful of the conscience and freedom of those who approach the confessional.”

He reminded them to entrust penitents to Mary, “who is the Refuge of sinners and Mother of mercy.”

Watch Video Below 



OMG! Watch Emotional Video!!! Mum Forgives Teenager Who Shot And Killed Her US Navy Son

OMG! Watch Emotional Video!!! Mum Forgives Teenager Who Shot And Killed Her US Navy Son

Suliman Abdul-Mutakallim was shot behind the back of his head, as he walked home, carrying food for himself and his wife.

Authorities say he was an innocent and unsuspecting victim.

After two teenagers pleaded guilty on November 2017, at separate court hearings and were sentenced to prison terms, Abdul-Mutakallim’s mother, Rukiye, offered to hug them.

Javon Coulter said she could.

Rukiye wants to visit them in prison regularly and help them become better people.

She thinks about it this way: They have been infected by a disease, but they are young. They can be cured.

Vengeance, she said, solves nothing. It won’t bring back her son.


A killing for less than $60

It happened the night of June 28, 2015, in South Cumminsville, under a highway overpass. Suliman was walking home from a White Castle, carrying a bag of food.

Police say there were three robbers. One of them, Javon, who was 14, was seen in a surveillance video pulling money from the front pocket of his pants right after the shooting.

The 39-year-old Navy veteran, known by many as “Sam,” was still alive, face-down on the pavement, bleeding. His wallet likely contained less than $60.

The video showed Javon hand money to the other two. One was 17-year-old Valentino Pettis. Police believe the third person was a man in his 20s, but he was never charged.

Javon, Valentino and the third person then walked down the street, taking the food with them.

Rukiye, a native of North Carolina and a devout Muslim who converted in her late-teens, has lived with that image of her dying son for more than two years. Her grief is constant. 

Rukiye Abdul-Mutakallim holds a photo of her son, Suliman Ahmed Abdul-Mutakallim. He’s a Navy …

The Enquirer/Liz Dufour

In an interview at her College Hill home, Rukiye recalled the moment Suliman, the youngest of her three biological children, died at University of Cincinnati Medical Center. She and other family members were at his bedside. She was holding his hand.

Her religion teaches that there is no goodbye. So Rukiye whispered to her son, “Until I see you again.”

Then she kissed him.

Malyyka Bonner, right, and her cousin Sadareh Pettis, listen as Bonner’s son, Javon Coulter, 16, …

The Enquirer/Liz Dufour

At a court hearing more than two years later, on Nov. 2, 2017 Rukiye – after asking Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Megan Shanahan for permission – did something courtroom veterans said they’d never seen.

She walked up to Javon, who’d just admitted involvement in her son’s death, and hugged him. She also embraced Javon’s mother.  

She wanted them to know she could see beyond the act that took her son’s life.

And she pledged to do everything possible to make Javon a better man.

“His death was already ordained,” she told him. “Maybe the purpose is to save your life.”

Rukiye, who is 66, said her son’s killers are children who have mothers, like herself.

“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.”

“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.”


Javon’s mother, Malyyka Bonner, understands that he needs to be punished for what happened.

“A wrong’s been done,” she said.

Bonner now lives in an apartment with two of her other children. Her building in Mount Airy, part of a large complex, is less than two miles from Rukiye’s home. 

It’s still not clear who fired the gun that night. It was never found. The shooting of Suliman is not seen on the surveillance video.

Valentino, who is also known as “Tino,” blamed Javon. A witness in juvenile court said that after the shooting, Valentino was angry with Javon because he shot “an innocent man.”

Javon told police the third, unnamed person fired the gun.

“I heard Tino did it. I heard Javon did it. I heard a third person did it,” Cincinnati police Detective Eric Karaguleff testified at a juvenile court hearing. “I don’t care – doesn’t matter – they all benefited.”

Bonner said she doesn’t know what happened. Javon won’t talk about it, she said.

“I don’t think he can fully grasp … the whole reality of what really happened,” she said.

The case against Javon and Valentino, now 19, began in juvenile court, but both eventually were transferred to adult court on murder charges. Both pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Javon also pleaded guilty to robbery.

Bonner doesn’t want the system to throw her son away. She fears that when he is released from prison – without sufficient education, job training and treatment – he will still be a boy.

Javon Coulter, 16, enters Judge Megan E. Shanahan’s courtroom to take a plea agreement in the …

The Enquirer/Liz Dufour

“That’s what they gonna send me home with,” she said – a 14-year-old in the body of a man in his 30s.

Javon shouldn’t have been out of the house the night of the shooting, a Sunday.

At the time, Bonner, Javon, his brother and sister, were living in her mother’s house in Millvale. Bonner and the children shared two rooms on the first floor. Her mother also lived in the house, along with Bonner’s sister, uncle and Valentino, who is her cousin. 

Bonner, 32, is a single mother. She was 15 when she became pregnant with Javon. Her source of income is Social Security disability. Her two youngest children are in their father’s custody.

In 2005, Javon was 4 years old when his father, Kevin Berry, was shot and killed outside an apartment in Winton Terrace. Court documents say Berry, 24, was targeted because he was selling marijuana in territory others had claimed as their own.

Soon after the shooting, Bonner said she moved to Mississippi to live with her father, “to get a new outlook on life and start over.”

She and the children lived in Mississippi for about six years. She said she got married and divorced. Her father died of lung cancer.

Bonner and her children moved back to Cincinnati in 2013. They moved in with her mother, who was battling cancer.

Javon had been attending Aiken High School’s New Tech program. At 14, he was in the seventh grade. Bonner said he has always been in special education classes and still struggles to read and write.

Javon, who was about 6-foot-3 at the time of the shooting and is now an inch taller, has shown potential as an athlete. He played on Aiken’s junior varsity football team. He also played basketball for the Millvale Community Center.

Bonner said Javon always has been big for his age. He was born prematurely but weighed more than 8 pounds. She described him as a quiet boy who kept to himself and loved playing video games.

The mental health issues began when they moved back to Cincinnati, she said. He often wore headphones, she said, to block out voices he alone heard.

He was a danger only to himself, she said. He once held a knife to his own throat and threatened to kill himself.

Javon also learned to call 911 when he was mentally unstable, she said. He’d say he was going to kill himself, police would pick him up and take him to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital psychiatric unit. That happened, she said, four or five times.

She told The Enquirer he spent several months in the psychiatric unit at various times. That could not be confirmed.

“It was a shock to me that he was even reaching out for help, and I didn’t understand it,” Bonner said. “I didn’t know how to take, ‘I’m hearing voices.’”

Suliman Ahmed Abdul-Mutakallim, 39, is buried in the military section of Spring Grove Cemetery.

The Enquirer/Liz Dufour

She said he was taking medication.

There also was Valentino’s influence. Bonner said he began living in the home where she lived, after his own mother, her aunt, put him out.

“He didn’t want to go to school,” she said. “He just wanted to hang in the street and do whatever.”

That included, she said, sneaking Javon out of the house at night.

On most nights, she said she would go out and look for them. The night of the shooting was different.

“That night, I didn’t,” she said. She was tired of chasing after them.

“I told my sister: ‘Whatever lesson they gonna learn, they’re gonna have to learn it tonight, because I’m not gonna get ‘em.’”


Suliman Abdul-Mutakallim spent the day of the shooting at home with his wife, relaxing and watching movies, according to Rukiye.

He grew up in California, got his GED in Michigan and enlisted in the Navy in May 2001, Rukiye said, “to help him find a direction.”

His older brother is a lieutenant commander in the Navy.

After serving three years during the Iraq War, he went from place to place before moving to Ohio. 

Over several years, Suliman lived with his mother and then his sister, an Information Technology specialist, and eventually got married in 2010. His wife declined to talk to The Enquirer.

Suliman and his wife lived in apartments in the West End and Over-the-Rhine before moving to the apartment in South Cumminsville. They were estranged at times, including as recently as 2014, according to court documents.

In a 2013 Facebook post, Suliman wrote about how a neighbor was fatally shot in the head, outside an apartment he and his wife lived in at the time. The shooting happened, he wrote, early on a Sunday morning in June 2013.

Suliman, who was Christian, believed he had somehow failed his neighbor by not offering his own testimony and witness to him. He wrote that the man: “never gave his heart over to the Lord. I never gave him the chance. (He) was only 32, and I thought he’d have plenty of time.” 

“To all my friends and family, we don’t know when our time on earth is going to be done, so if you haven’t made your heart right with God, please don’t delay,” Suliman said in the post.

Rukiye said her son’s goal was eventually to buy a house and show his wife a better way of life. He’d worked a series of jobs and at the time he was shot worked as a machinist at Meyer Tool in Camp Washington.

Rukiye said it’s likely Suliman didn’t see who shot him. Had they asked for his wallet and cellphone, he would have given it to them, she said.

As part of a plea deal, which Rukiye supported, Javon was sentenced to 20 years. He gets credit for more than two years he’s already spent in a youth facility and will be 34 when he’s released from prison. Valentino received a 14-year sentence.


‘A fair chance at life’

Questions remain about Javon’s mental health. Bonner said he has been diagnosed with depression and psychosis, and has been hearing voices for the last few years. His case was delayed repeatedly because of mental competency issues. Bonner said she hopes Javon can get treatment in prison.

“Just give him help,” she said. “That’s the only thing I’m looking for out of the whole ordeal.”

Rukiye has focused on helping Javon and Valentino. She said they “weren’t given a fair chance at life.”

Rukiye is retired. She worked in the banking industry for many years. Since 2014, she has been a disaster response team volunteer with Islamic Relief. Most recently, she went to Houston after Hurricane Harvey.

She thinks about both teens, “knowing that they came from a person who is a mother like myself.”

Valentino refused Rukiye’s offer of a hug in court, and she worries that he won’t be willing to accept her help. She worries that he will choose a life on the streets and when released will go back to that world.

With permission from their mothers, she wants to become an advocate for them, visit them regularly while they are in prison, help them get an education and “try to find a solution that will put a light in these young men’s lives for their future.”

She wants to show them that although they have forever harmed her family that she forgives them.

And to make sure that when they’re released they have an opportunity to build a life and be successful.

Get them to see that there is a better side of life than what they have been seeing up until now,” she said. “To learn how to say no to that which you already know is wrong.”



%d bloggers like this: