Family members and friends gathered Thursday night to honor the life of Cannon Hinnant, a 5-year-old boy who police said was shot and killed by a neighbor in Wilson, North Carolina last weekend.
Cannon was riding his bike at the time of the deadly shooting, police said.
More than 100 cars filled the funeral home parking lot. Friends, loved ones and strangers all showed up to lift the boy’s family during an unthinkable time.
Merrill Race, Cannon’s grandfather, spoke to our partners at WTVD, expressing his pain and disbelief.
“We shouldn’t even be here,” he said.
Race, a member of the local Guardians of the Children, described his grandson as a “beautiful kid” who loved playing outside.
“Cannon was the type of kid that was always polite, kind of laid back, but he was a beautiful little kid,” he said.
Lee Parker, Cannon’s stepfather, told he helped raise the boy with his wife, Donna Waddell.
”He meant the world to me, just like all the other kids that are mine I helped raise,” Parker said.
Cannon’s death has garnered national attention. People from around the world have been using several hashtags with Cannon’s name on social media, sending prayers, words of encouragement and even monetary donations.
”From Australia, Ohio, Colorado, I mean, it don’t stop. It’s all around the world,” Parker said.
“His smile is huge,” Daryl High, who was Cannon’s youth pastor,“His personality is big. You could not help to be changed when you met Cannon. If a word wasn’t said, you can’t help to be changed.”
Darius Sessoms, 25, is in jail on no bond, facing a first-degree murder charge. Wilson Police have not released any information regarding a motive. According to WRAL, Sessoms’ parents said they are deeply saddened by what happened to Cannon. They said they believe their son was on drugs and having hallucinations at the time of the shooting.
The family said Cannon was set to start kindergarten this week. Race could not understand why anyone would hurt a child.
”That’s evil,” he said. “I never met this guy in my life, but that is one evil dude. He’s there where he should be.”
Neighbors, too, were distraught over the boy’s death.
Race and Parker said their family is missing a loving, free-spirited young boy who will be deeply missed and impossible to replace.
”It’ll never be behind us,” Parker said. “He’ll always be with us, but we’re gonna get through it.”
The family intends to hold a vigil in the near future, but no details or dates have been announced. They said Friday’s vigil was postponed because they need some time to mourn and heal.
‘How could anyone do that?‘: NC man accused of shooting 5-year-old neighbor in the head at point-blank range
A 25-year-old man accused of shooting his 5-year-old neighbor in the head at point blank range in Wilson, North Carolina on Sunday night has been charged with first-degree murder in the boy’s death.
Darius Nathaniel Sessoms, 25, was arrested Monday after fleeing the scene and is in the custody of Wilson Police and members of the U.S. Marshals Service Carolinas Regional Task Force.
No details about a possible motive for the shooting have been released, but police said it was not random.
Wilson County District Court Judge John Britt told Sessoms during a virtual hearing on Tuesday that he has a right to represent himself, hire a lawyer or he could ask for a court-appointed lawyer. Sessoms, who is being held without bond, said he wanted to try to hire a lawyer.
Wilson police said officers responding Sunday evening to a report of a shooting at a mobile home park found Cannon Hinnant suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. Capt. Steve Stroud said officers and other first responders performed first aid before the boy was taken to Wilson Medical Center, where he died.
“The Wilson Police Department sends its sincerest condolences and prayers to the family of Cannon during this tragic time,” the department said in a release.