One of the men shouted at them to turn their car around, and when they did, the group opened fire on the vehicle. Kian was killed with a bullet to his lungs, and his father was also hit with several bullets and is hospitalized, said Ms. Molaei, according to videos posted on social media.
“They riddled our car with bullets,” said Ms. Molaei, adding that she had opened the door to shout at the men, “Don’t shoot! We are a family with kids!”
After her son was killed, Ms. Molaei said the family took his body straight home, fearing that turning him over to the morgue could result in the security forces’ stealing his body and secretly burying it. Officials have been accused of that in at least one prominent, previous case, in the killing of Nika Shakarami, 16, in September.
Ms. Molaei said she borrowed blocks of ice from neighbors, and covered the boy’s body with it after laying him out on the carpet. Photos of Kian, and videos of his mother’s account of desperately trying to protect his body for a funeral, went viral and struck a nerve with many Iranians.
The widely circulated accounts of Kian’s life and death — including home videos showing him planting a tree, and dedicating the test run of a small boat he had built for the school science fair “in the name of the God of rainbows” — drew several prominent Iranian athletes and celebrities to condemn the government for killing children and to express solidarity with the Iranian people.
Mahtab Keramati, a well-known actress who was an ambassador for UNICEF in Iran, said in a public post that she would resign from the role as it had become clear that children could not be protected in Iran.
Another public figure in Iran, the political activist Pooyan Fakhraei, tweeted: “Why don’t you understand that your problem isn’t the protesters in the streets, it’s the masses who agree with them? It’s the growing defections within your own loyal constituents?”