MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) Five months after he was shot and killed -- the mother of University of South Alabama student Gil Collar is speaking out.
Collar was shot by campus police officer Travis Austin in October after Collar lunged at the officer outside campus police headquarters. Austin is now back on active duty.
Collar's mother, Bonnie, penned an open letter to the school paper, The Vanguard, describing how she's been feeling since his death.
"She really wanted the USA community to know about her son and about what she thought," said Cassie Fambro, a senior at South Alabama and the editor of The Vanguard.
She and her staff reported extensively on the shooting.
And now, Collar's mother has entrusted Cassie with her inner most thoughts on the death of her son.
"I think it really serves to bring us together," said Fambro, "and that was her goal in writing this letter and communicating with me and figuring out this is what she wanted to do."
In the letter, Bonnie Collar eulogizes her son as “respectful and loving... a champion of the underdog,” she writes... “who looked for the good in everyone.” She recalls a son not held in the grip of a mind altering drug, like the one that triggered the disastrous events of that night.
"He was a humble, soft spoken person," she writes. "He loved his family and spending time with us. He was kind, intelligent, and funny beyond description. He was a mentor to the younger athletes on his wrestling team. They loved him as a brother."
She speaks in measured terms about the choices made by police that night, posed in the form of advice to students like Gil.
"You cannot assume that everyone you meet has your best interest at heart," she pens. "A police officer you see on the street is not the same as the one back home who coached your baseball team for half your life."
And toward the end of the letter, more motherly advice... words she might offer her own son, if she could.
"Keep old relationships nurtured along with new," the letter reads. "Simply make good choices. Forgive wrongs, but nevertheless work for change when change is needed to correct a wrong. If you find yourself in need of help, seek out those trustworthy friends."
"I think every parent of a college aged student should read this," said Fambro. "I think every student going to college should read this letter. I think when you're going off somewhere new and you're going to experience new things, you need to have that level of maturity to step back and say, let me think about this twice."
You can read Bonnie Collar's letter at http://thevanguardonline.com/campus/1494-gil-collars-mother-speaks-out-to-usa.html