The mother of 11-year-old Rhys Jones cradled her dying son in her arms after he was shot on his way home from football practice, a friend has said.
Rhys was described by his coach as a "good footballer"
Tony Edge, 40, broke the news to the youngster's mother Melanie before driving her to the scene of the shooting in Croxteth, Liverpool.
"She went to him, knelt down, held him and spoke to him," said Mr Edge, who coached Rhys's football team.
Rhys died shortly after being taken to Alder Hey Hospital.
The youngster was walking home across the Fir Tree pub car park with two friends after football practice when he was hit in the neck by a bullet.
Witnesses said a youth on a BMX bicycle, who had his face covered with a hood, rode up to the car park and fired three shots.
Mr Edge, who works for Liverpool City Council, was told about the shooting by another coach.
He said he usually gave Rhys a lift home from weekly training sessions but was forced to miss practice on Wednesday because he arrived home from work late.
After being told Rhys had been shot he rushed to the boy's home, before driving his mother to the car park.
Rhys died shortly after being taken to Alder Hey Hospital
"I was there before the ambulance crews got there and it was absolutely horrific. There was another little lad from the footy team who saw it.
"He was upset and I was trying to get him to stop looking at Rhys.
"Rhys's mum was with him and they waited for the ambulance - it seemed to take for ever to turn up.
"I don't know what she was saying to him because I walked away from it."
Mr Edge said Rhys was a "great little player" who played in midfield and as a forward.
"I just can't get my head around it - he was only walking home from training.
"His mum and dad would come and watch him play football and his mum would give him £10 every time he scored so he always wanted to play up front.
"He was a very good footballer, he was a lovely kid and funny."
Although there is an issue between gangs in Croxteth, Mr Edge said Rhys had absolutely nothing to do with them.
He said: "You can't mention Rhys in the same breath as gang culture.
"And Rhys and his friends even stayed away from local teenagers because they scared them.
"He has been in the wrong place at the wrong time."