American 5th Grader Killed in Sri Lanka Wanted to Find Alzheimer's Cure

By Inside Edition Staff
Copyright (c) 2019 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The fifth grader from Washington, D.C., who has been identified as one of four Americans killed in the Sri Lanka Easter Sunday bombings wanted to  find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, his father said.

Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa was on a leave of absence from his exclusive school, Sidwell Friends, when he was killed in the attacks. President Obama’s daughter Sasha is a senior at the same school, and Malia Obama graduated from the school in 2016. 

"These guys had no idea who they were killing, they had no idea,” the boy’s father, Alex Arrow, told Inside Edition. “All of us have seen news stories of cute kids dying and your own precious son is going to be a picture on a screen. You can’t hold him, you can only hold is picture." 

The 11-year-old texted his father minutes before the terrorists struck. The boy said he was going to an Easter buffet breakfast at the Cinnamon Grand hotel. 

The terrorist was waiting on the buffet line when the bomb went off killing the boy and wounding his mother. 

“He was actually killed instantly. He did not suffer. Shrapnel pierced his heart and he died immediately. He had no pulse when he got to the hospital,” his emotional grandmother Louise Shafritz told Inside Edition. 

The boy's father said he spoke three languages and dreamed of going to Harvard like his mom and dad.  Kieran also wanted to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. 

“He was going to be a famous neuroscientist, that is what he was going to be, and he was going to help a lot of people. And now, that is not his fate anymore. He is going to be known just for this,” his father said. 

The attack on Easter Sunday left at least 300 people dead, according to Sri Lanka's government. Hundreds more were wounded after a series of eight bomb blasts went off in and around Sri Lanka’s capital, at churches and popular hotels.

The explosions happened at St. Anthony’s Shrine, Zion Church and St. Sebastian's Church. There were also blasts at the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels. Authorities say the area is popular with tourists.

Haunting video has emerged of one of the suicide bombers in the moments before the attack. In a CNN exclusive, you can see him patting a little girl on the head. He's carrying a large backpack as he proceeds to walk to the church.

Another American life lost in the bombings was 40-year-old businessman Dieter Kowalski from Denver. His grieving mother said, "we are all in shock."

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