A father who forgave his son's killer and wrote a book about the healing process shared his emotional story with 10News.
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Azim Khamisa's son Tariq was shot and killed 17 years ago while delivering pizza near San Diego State University.
"When I first got the news, I had my first out-of-body experience, and I believe in God," said Khamisa. "The pain was so excruciating."
The person who pulled the trigger was 14-year-old Tony Hicks.
He was the first juvenile tried and convicted as an adult in California and was sentenced to 35 years to life in prison.
Nine months later, Khamisa started the Tariq Khamisa Foundation, which is named after his son. He also wrote a book entitled "From Murder to Forgiveness: a Father's Journey."
A new edition of his book is now available.
"So what's updated with this book is my meeting with the young man who killed my son," Khamisa said.
It includes the first time he looked his son's killer directly in the eye.
"I'm looking into his eyes trying to find a murderer and what I saw was another human being," he said.
Khamisa said it was in that moment that he truly forgave Hicks.
"There's no quality being a victim," he said. "I wanted my full life back."
Hicks' grandfather, Ples Felix, works with Khamisa at the foundation. He spoke with 10News on the phone about what his grandson said after that first face-to-face interview with Khamisa.
"And he said, 'Daddy, there goes a very special man,'" said Felix. "'I murdered his one and only son and not only has he forgiven me for murdering his son, he's offered me a job at the Tariq Khamisa Foundation when I get out of prison.'"
Khamisa said he is at peace as he looks at dozens of framed pictures of his son on the walls of his home.
"My son put me on my spiritual purpose," he said. "That's the gift that came out of this tragedy."
Hicks is up for parole in 2027 and Khamisa plans to be there to support his release.
For more information about the Tariq Khamisa Foundation, visit TKF.org
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