A family in Wilson, North Carolina, is mourning the loss of their 5-year-old son, who was shot and killed Aug. 9 in the dad’s driveway.
Cannon Hinnant was just days shy of starting kindergarten.
On Aug. 10, Darius Sessoms, 25, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. He is being held without bond.
Sessoms is the neighbor of the boy’s father, Austin Hinnant.
According to the Washington Post, Sessoms had his first court appearance on Aug. 11. In a brief hearing held by video conference, he told a judge he would hire an attorney rather than use a public defender, CBS-17 reported. A court clerk said none was listed for him as of Friday.
The boy’s father told the Wilson Times that he had a neighborly relationship with Sessoms. The night before the shooting, Hinnant was grilling chicken and noticed him “sitting in his car, like he had a lot on his mind.”
He invited Sessoms over. The two sat on the front porch, sipping beer together.
“The Lord says to love your neighbor,” Hinnant said, according to the Wilson Times. “I was trying to do something nice.”
The next day, he said, Cannon was riding his bike in front of the house after the family returned home from church. From inside the house, Hinnant heard a loud noise. He hurried outside, where he found Cannon on the ground.
“I just scooped him up in my arms and held him and held him,” Hinnant told WRAL. “And I screamed, ‘Somebody help me, please, help me save my son. God, save my son, please.’”
He said he saw Sessoms pacing in his own yard, adding: “I have no idea why he would kill my son.”
Police and paramedics arrived and tended to Cannon. He was rushed to a hospital, where he died of his injuries.
Authorities identified Sessoms as the suspect the same night. The U.S. Marshals Carolinas Violent Fugitive Task Force was among the agencies that helped track him down a day later inside a house in Goldsboro, about a half-hour from Wilson.
Multiple fundraisers have been created for the family. Cannon’s grandmother created a GoFundMe titled “Justice for Cannon” having raised over $810,000 as of Thursday.
“Again, the family of Cannon would like to thank everyone for their generosity,” Gwen Hinnant posted on Monday. “We have well exceeded our goal. I’ve had many requests to leave this up because there are many people still wanting to donate to Cannon’s siblings and to ensure that we get justice for Cannon. No matter the cost, no matter how long it takes, we will get justice for him.”