By Cara Anna
As he listened to his father die, the boy lay still on the asphalt. His elbow burned where a bullet had pierced him. His thumb stung from being grazed.
Another killing was in progress on a lonely street in Bucha, the community on the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, where bodies of civilians are still being discovered weeks after Russian soldiers withdrew. Many had been shot in the head.
The 14-year-old Yura Nechyporenko was about to become one of them.
Survivors have described soldiers firing guns near their feet or threatening them with grenades, only to be drawn away by a cooler-headed colleague. But there was no one around to restrain the Russian soldier that day in March when Yura and his father, 47-year-old Ruslan, were biking down a tree-lined street.
They were on their way to visit vulnerable neighbors sheltering in basements and homes without electricity or running water. Their bikes were tied with white fabric, in a sign they traveled in peace.
When the soldier stepped from a dirt path to challenge them, Yura and his father immediately stopped and raised their hands.
“What are you doing?” Yura remembers the soldier asking. The soldier didn’t give Yura’s father time to answer.
The boy heard two gunshots. His father fell, mouth open, already bleeding.
A shot hit Yura’s hand, and he fell, too. Another shot struck his elbow. He closed his eyes.
A final shot was fired.