Cannon Hinnant, the 5-year-old North Carolina boy who was shot in the head at point-blank range, will be gravely missed.
The child’s father, Austin Hinnant, told WRAL-TV about the moments following his son’s murder.
Suspect Darrius Sessoms, a neighbor to the Hinnant family, reportedly walked up to Cannon last week as the child, who was bound for kindergarten, rode his bike in the street.
Eyewitnesses say that they saw Sessoms pull out a gun and execute the unwitting child in full view.
Authorities arrested the 25-year-old suspect on Monday, charging him with first-degree murder in Cannon’s death. He was jailed without bond and is due to appear on court on Aug. 25.
‘Maybe he just fell off his bike’
Ahead of Cannon’s Thursday funeral, a tearful Austin Hinnant told the station that his son didn’t seem to know what was coming.
“[The children] were playing in the yard like any other day,” he said, recalling the day his youngest child was killed.
Austin said he was inside his home when he heard the gunshot. He ran outside to see what had taken place, and saw his son lying on the ground.
“The first thing that went through my mind was maybe he just fell off his bike,” he recalled. “The closer I got to him, the more I realized it was something far more serious.”
He said he immediately took his young child into his arms and screamed, “Somebody, please help me save my son! Help me save my son, please!”
‘I couldn’t leave my son’s side’
A quick-thinking neighbor quickly appeared on the scene with an EMT bag as Austin said he collapsed on the ground in prayer.
“[You] can’t imagine what it’s like to hold your son in your arms with a gunshot wound to the head, and his blood is running down your arms,” Austin said.
He recalled Sessoms nearby, pacing and armed before the suspect fled the scene in a vehicle.
“I was looking at him as I was picking up Cannon,” Austin said. “I was so full of rage, but I couldn’t leave my son’s side. I wanted to be with my son”
‘The Lord says to love our neighbor’
Austin said he has no idea why Sessoms would do something so heinous to his child and had hosted the suspect for dinner just days before his son’s murder.
“The Lord says to love our neighbor,” Austin said. “I have plenty of food to go around. I just wanted to be nice.”
Austin described an easy relationship with Sessoms, saying that the two would even sit on Austin’s front porch and drink beer.
“There wasn’t anything between me and him, any bad blood whatsoever, for him to have to a reason to do this,” Austin added.
“Everybody just loved Cannon. He lit up the room,” Austin said.
Generous supporters open their wallets for the devastated family
The Wilson, North Carolina, Police Department has not released any details about a possible motive in the child’s brutal murder.
A GoFundMe page for the family has received more than $320,000 in donations so far. Donors continues to flood the page to benefit young Cannon’s family.