Missouri State football player killed trying to protect sister, police say

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Missouri State University community mourned the loss of a football player who police said died trying to save his sister.

A gunman shot and killed Missouri State freshman Richard Nelson in his hometown of Las Vegas. Police said his sister was being attacked and Nelson jumped in to protect her.

A mother and son were charged in the shooting, KSPR reports.

Nearly 500 people, including family, teammates, friends and coaches gathered Sunday for a vigil at the school's Student Union Theatre. They called it a celebration of life.

Nelson had been awarded a full scholarship to attend MSU.

His mother, Roxanne Bruce, said he always had a smile on his face.

"He was a wonderful kid; he always made me laugh too. I mean, he was always trying to prove himself to me, but he never had to. He was always good in my eyes. He was always the best. Everything he did, he always did it to the best," Bruce said.

Nelson was 18.