FRIENDS and fans of Ophelia Nichols rally behind the beloved TikTok star after her son was tragically gunned down at a gas station in circumstances still unknown to the family.
Randon Lee was shot dead in Prichard, Alabama on Friday night, just hours before his 19th birthday.
The Mobile County Sheriff’s Office confirmed officials are following “multiple suspects” in the case but are refusing to release any further information at this time, citing an ongoing investigation.
Nichols, who is known for spreading love and positivity online, made a heartbreaking plea to her more than seven million followers on TikTok on Saturday, tearfully insisting, “Somebody’s gotta know something.”
Tiffany Polzin, a friend of Nichols’s in Michigan, called Randon’s death a “horrible act” in an interview with The US Sun that has left the family with so many questions — and very few answers.
“Ophelia lost what she calls her ‘little kid’ who was going to be 19,” said Polzin, who struck up an online friendship with Nichols a few years ago.
“He couldn’t even remotely live his full life.
“His killer is – and I hate to use that term – still at large, but we don’t know who it is, we don’t know why they did it; there is nothing Ophelia and her family have answers for right now.
“Everything remains a secret,” she added.
“It’s horrible for anyone to lose a child, but Ophelia is a woman who gives herself so selflessly to others, with empathy and sympathy for those around her.
“How could anyone do this to her and her family? …she does so much for everyone else and she loves and adores her family so much.”
Polzin, who has never met Nichols in person but regularly interacts with her online, said the social media star seems to be coping “as best as she can” given the current circumstances.
She said she was both heartbroken and angry at Nichols following Randon’s death.
“Why did this murder take place at all?” asked Polzin. “So that person out there is going to do it to someone else? … It’s a horrible thought to sit on.
“And how the hell could someone at a gas station just walk up to someone and shoot them?
“Is this the world we live in now?
“It’s just awful.”
She continued: “You see an 18-year-old young man who went off on a Friday to get some gas, lived his life and now he’s gone in the blink of an eye.
“It’s a very real feeling for millions of people who are literally going to the gas station to fill up and someone could just walk up to you and shoot you like that.
“What kind of world do we live in where someone thinks that’s okay?”
A MOTHER’S HEARTBREAK
Randon was shot and killed at an Exxon gas station around 7:45 a.m. Friday in Prichard, Alabama.
He suffered wounds at one gas station before driving down the street to another, where he was found dead moments later.
Convinced that “someone must know something,” Ophelia pleaded with her followers to catch her son’s killer.
In an emotional video posted on TikTok, she said: “I’ve never asked you for anything, but I need your help to do it.
“Today would have been my baby’s 19th birthday but he was taken from me last night.
“Taken from my children, my husband and our family. My son was murdered. He was shot,” cried Ophelia, known online as Mama Tot.
“And I have this hatred in my heart that I don’t recognize. Because I’ve never felt hate for anyone. This person took my son’s life.
“He was just 18 years old. That’s the best part of a person’s life and I know they’re out there in my town. You are out there.
“They are out there, living and breathing while my son is dead.”
The video, which has now been viewed almost 20 million times, touched the hearts of TikTok users around the world.
Fans of Nichols have used the hashtag “#JusticeforRandon” to pay tribute to the late teenager.
RETURNING KINDNESS AND SUPPORT
Polzin said she was stunned to learn of Randon’s death on Saturday and immediately reached out to Nichols to offer her support.
After speaking with Nichols, Polzin and her wife, Cari, set up a GoFundMe for the devastated mother, raising a staggering $280,000 in donations in just over 24 hours.
Amid the heartbreak, Polzin, a clinical health psychologist, said it was heartwarming to see fans of Nichols — affectionately known online as “Mama Tot” — rally around her and give back the “kindness and positivity” she has embodied for so long.
“I know it’s very hard for people dealing with tragedy to think about what they need and how someone can help them, which can really stop them from grieving,” she said.
“It was my goal to allow her to grieve and I asked her if I could set up GoFundMe and do that for her and she gave me permission.
“Now so many people are writing that it’s time to help Mama Tot because she was there for us, now let’s be there for her.
“That was that goal for the army of people who came to help her and they did it.”
The incredible response to Polzin’s fundraiser led her to suspend fundraising at the request of Nichols, who reportedly said they had raised “more than enough” for her.
Polzin said the request “speaks volumes” about the kind of person Nichols is.
“She didn’t want people to feel like they had to help, but so many people did,” she said.
“There was a lot of frustration when we stopped donating because people still really wanted to help… I ended up sending her inbox for anyone who still wanted to do something nice.”
Polzin said she hoped Randon’s killers, or the killers, would be caught as soon as possible, adding that anyone who knows should contact local police.
“Ophelia is asking for help, she feels someone saw something or knows something.
“She said herself, ‘I have hate in my heart that I don’t recognize because I’ve never felt hate for anyone.’
“This is a woman who loves unconditionally and stands up for everyone.
“And now she asked for help, which she never did.
“She just wants some answers.”
The investigation into Randon’s death continues.
Anyone with information can contact the Prichard Police Department at 251-452-7800 or the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office at 251-574-8633.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5651435/tiktok-star-ophelia-nichols-son-killed-shooting-update/ Mystery surrounding death of TikToker Ophelia Nichols’ son Randon Lee as teen’s family ‘have no idea why he was shot’