Sharing her thoughts. Hours after Reuben Gulley was arrested and detained on charges relating to the death of Ophelia Nichols’ son, the TikTok star opened up about her emotional reaction to the news.
“Grateful, but not happy,” Nichols, 40, captioned a Friday, August 19, TikTok video before detailing her full account.
The social media influencer explained: “I’m getting a hundred messages saying, ‘You must be so happy right now,’ and I am not. I am not happy. … When I seen that mugshot last night, I thought to myself, ‘My goodness, he’s just a baby.’”
Nichols recalled reading comments from the 20-year-old suspect’s loved ones who described him as a “lovely young man,” which she “bet” that he was.
“That just made me think, within 11 seconds, he made the decision to just throw his life away,” she added, noting that Gulley and her late son, Randon Lee, both “have a mother that would do absolutely anything for them.”
She continued: “So remember this, there’s now two families that are hurting, there’s two of us. And those parents shouldn’t suffer for something that their child did, just as well as I shouldn’t suffer for anything that my children have done.”
Nichols — who announced earlier this month that her son had died just shy of his 19th birthday — further offered prayers for Gulley’s family. She hoped that his mother, unlike her, would not have to hear negative comments about her child throughout her hometown.
“I don’t wish that on anybody,” the Alabama native added. “That was really hard for me. Neither one of our children should’ve been there that night. Neither one of them. I know it’s going to be a long road to justice. I hope it’s done right, as it should.”
Gulley surrendered himself to the Mobile County Metro Jail on Thursday, August 18, in connection to murder charges, according to the jail’s website.
Nichols previously confirmed that her son had been fatally shot.
“He was took from me last night,” the “Mama Tots” personality said in a TikTok video on June 25. “Took from my children and my husband and our family. My son was murdered. He was shot and I have this hatred in my heart that I don’t recognize ’cause I’ve never felt hate for anybody.”
She continued: “I never asked y’all for anything, but I need your help with this. There’s almost 7 million people that follow me. Somebody’s got to know something. Somebody knows who did this to my child. And I’m asking for somebody’s help. Anybody’s help. It’s my son.”
Local police officers later deduced that the teenager had been shot at a gas station after approaching the pumps at the same time as the suspect, they announced in a June press conference. After firing the weapon, the suspect soon fled. Lee was pronounced dead on the scene after first responders arrived.