Cannon Hinnant was just a typical 5-year-old boy innocently playing in his own yard in Wilson, North Carolina, when police say a felon who was his neighbor walked up and shot him in the head, killing him.
Cannon’s mother, Bonny Waddell, wrote on Facebook that he was a child who “didn’t see color” and “made sure you knew he loved you even if he knew you five minutes… Cannon was always telling everyone he loved him.” She described him as “sweet, innocent, and loving,” adding the hashtag #IWANTJUSTICE.
Darius Sessoms is in custody facing a charge of first-degree murder. The boy’s death has galvanized the Internet, where people are widely sharing the hashtag #SayHisName in relation to the case. That’s a hashtag generally used for people who die in police-related shootings.
A woman wrote on Facebook, “Cannon Hinnant… I’ve seen a few post with his name so I googled it. Oh my gosh, where’s the media and the outrage over the point blank murder of this innocent child????”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sessoms Is Accused of Running Up & Shooting the Child in the Head
According to KMOV-TV, the child was playing in his own yard when Sessoms, a neighbor, is accused of running up, shooting him in the head, and then running away. Darius Nathaniel Sessoms is in the custody of the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department, according to online records.
The Wilson Police Department wrote in a news release:
On August 9, 2020 at 5:33 p.m., officers of the Wilson Police Department were dispatched to 5100 block of Archers Road in reference to a shooting. Officers arrived on the scene and located a 5 year old suffering from a gunshot wound. Officers and EMS personnel began performing lifesaving efforts. The victim was transported to Wilson Medical Center. Tragically, the victim succumbed to their injuries.
Police later identified the suspect as Sessoms and the victim as Cannon Hinnant.
Cannon has two sisters who are ages 8 and 7, and they both saw their brother’s shooting, the children’s mother told WRAL-TV.
Doris Lybrand witnessed the shooting. She told WRAL-TV that she saw Sessoms run up to the boy and put the gun near his head before firing and running home.
“My first reaction was he’s playing with the kids,” Lybrand said to the television station. “For a second, I thought, ‘That couldn’t happen.’ People don’t run across the street and kill kids.”
2. Cannon’s Mother Wrote That She Misses Her ‘Baby’
“#MYBABY BABY I CANT DO THIS WITHOUT YOU, PLEASE KNOW MOMMY IS BEGGING FOR YOU BACK AND IM TRYING SO HARD TO BE STRONG FOR YOUR SISTERS AND BROTHERS 😩💔 OH BABY BOY I MISS YOU SO SO BAD, 💔💔💔💔” the child’s mother, Bonny Waddell, wrote in a post on Facebook.
The obituary for Cannon Blake Hinnant says that he is “survived by his mother, Bonny Waddell and Lee Parker of Middlesex; father, Austin Hinnant and Fiance, Niki Renfrow of Wilson” and other relatives. He also had two sisters and two brothers.
Waddell wrote, “This man will answer to me, that man will see me and my son through my face!! This sorry excuse as a human being will rot in hell.”
She added: “My heart has been taken from me.” She has raged against the accused killer on Facebook, writing, “I will burn this country down if it’s what it’ll take to see this man burn in hell. I’m ready to flip this county upside down.” She added of Cannon: “One thing was for sure, he loves his mommy and he knew just how much mommy loved him 😩💔😭”
“You can’t hide forever! How could you dare, you have a son of your own!!! Why my child?” she wrote in another anguished post.
3. Cannon’s Father Held His Dying Son in His Arms
Cannon’s father has vividly described how he heard the gunshot and ran outside to find his bleeding son.
“I screamed for somebody to help me,” Cannon’s father told CNN affiliate WRAL. “They were just playing in the yard like any other day,” the dad said. He had just gone to church with his dad and sisters that Sunday. His dad, Austin Hinnant, said he “scooped him up in my arms and I held him…His blood ran down my arms.” The father was inside when the shot rang out, according to WRAL. He accused Sessoms of pacing and ranting.
The two fathers know each other, so the shooting was not completely random. But the motive is not clear, according to WRAL.
The two fathers had just had dinner and visited with each other over the weekend, the televisions station reported, but the father said there was no “bad blood” or words between them before the shooting.
At his first court appearance, the judge said that Sessoms was accused of the first-degree murder of the child. The Wilson Police Department wrote in a press release, “Sessoms has been charged with 1st Degree Murder and received no bond. Sessoms was located inside a residence in Goldsboro NC. The Wilson Police Department would like to thank the US Marshals’ Carolinas Violent Fugitive Task Force, Goldsboro Police Department, and Wayne County Sherriff’s Dept. for their assistance in apprehending Sessoms.”
4. A GoFundMe Page Set Up to Help the Boy’s Family Has Raised More Than $325,000
A GoFundMe page to help the boy’s family is titled, “Justice for Cannon.” It’s raised more than $325,000. It reads:
On Sunday, August 9th, this precious angel was playing outside with his siblings when he was murdered. He was merely doing what he would do any other day and that’s playing with his sisters, riding his bike, doing what kids do and all of the innocence that comes with being a child. This family has faced unimaginable pain because of this senseless act of violence. We are asking for your donations to assist with anything that may be needed for expenses related to his services. We offer our sincerest appreciation in this extremely difficult time. #justice for Cannon
The page says the GoFundMe page was established with the family’s permission.
5. Cannon’s Grandfather Remembered the Child as a ‘Beautiful Kid’ Who Loved Playing Outside
Merrill Race, Cannon’s grandfather, told ABC11, “We shouldn’t even be here.” He described Cannon as a “beautiful kid” who enjoyed playing outdoors, the television station reported, adding that family described the child as a “free-spirited boy.”
“He is a felon who has served multiple prison sentences,” the CBS17 journalist said on the air of Sessoms. “He has two pending felony drug charges in Wilson County.”
The Wilson Times says that Sessoms “was convicted of felony larceny of firearms in Wilson County in March 2016, misdemeanor maintaining a place for a controlled substance in Wake County in April 2016 and felony marijuana possession in Nash County in November 2016…His probation was revoked twice in 2017, resulting in separate three-month stints in prison. Court records show Sessoms has two pending counts of felony maintaining a vehicle, dwelling or place for a controlled substance in Wilson County.”