A grand jury has indicted a 25-year-old man for allegedly shooting and killing a young child last year, WTVD-TV in Durham, North Carolina, reported Monday.
Five-year-old Cannon Hinnant was playing on a bike near his house in Wilson, North Carolina, on Aug. 9, 2020, when suspect Darius N. Sessoms shot him in the head at point-blank range, the Wilson Police Department said in a news release.
Officers and paramedics arrived at the scene and tried to save the boy’s life, and Cannon was transported to Wilson Medical Center. Tragically, he succumbed to his injuries.
Sessoms was indicted on Wednesday, according to WTVD.
He lived next-door to Cannon’s father at the time of the shooting, WRAL-TV reported.
According to Doris Lybrand, who saw the shooting take place, Sessoms sprinted up to Cannon, placed the muzzle of his gun near the child’s head and pulled trigger. He then ran back to his own residence.
“My first reaction was he’s playing with the kids,” Lybrand told WRAL-TV. “For a second, I thought, ‘That couldn’t happen.’ People don’t run across the street and kill kids.”
“You don’t expect to see somebody shoot someone,” she said.
Later that day, police issued an active warrant for first-degree homicide against Sessoms, also a Wilson resident. They listed him as wanted in the National Crime Information Center database, and officers were hunting for him.
The next day, the local police department — working with the U.S. Marshals Service’s Carolinas Violent Fugitive Task Force, the Goldsboro Police Department and the Wayne County Sherriff’s Department — caught Sessoms. He was hiding inside a Goldsboro, North Carolina, residence at the time of his arrest.
Sessoms was hit with first-degree homicide charges without the possibility of bond.
Police also arrested a 21-year-old Wilson woman, Aolani Takemi Marie Petti, a month later for allegedly helping Sessoms escape despite knowing that he had committed a felony. Petti received a $250,000 secured bond, according to the Wilson Police Department.
Sessoms’ next court date is Jan. 24, according to WTVD.
“I just don’t understand why he did it,” a neighbor said at the time of the killing, according to the outlet. “How can you walk up to a little boy, point blank, and put a gun to his head and just shoot him? How could anyone do that?”
— WSOCTV (@wsoctv) August 12, 2020
The shooting came amid a summer of racial unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
Many vigils were held in honor and commemoration of Cannon after his death, WNCN-TV reported.
According to the outlet, on Aug. 22, 2020, hundreds of people took part in a motorcycle ride organized in memory of him in Johnston County.
“We feel blessed to be able to come down and support the family in the midst of this tragedy,” Michael Trollinger of the Fellowship Riders of Alamance County, who took part in the ride, said at the time.
“And to be able to pray for justice for this family and even for the offender, that the good Lord’s light will shine in his heart.”
“Yes, we’re gonna fight for justice for Cannon, but it goes beyond that because there are many children that are taken senselessly,” the boy’s grandmother said. “So justice is going to start with Cannon for us, but it’s gonna go beyond that.”
“He meant the world to me, just like all the other kids that are mine I helped raise,” Cannon’s stepfather said, according to WTVD.
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