Darius Sessoms is a North Carolina felon with pending drug-related cases who is accused of shooting and killing Cannon Hinnant, the 5-year-old son of his neighbor, in the child’s front yard.
According to KMOV-TV, the child was playing in his father’s yard on Sunday, August 9, when, his mother said, Sessoms, a neighbor, ran over and shot Cannon in the head and then ran away. Sessoms is in the custody of the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department, according to online records.
Sessoms, 25, of Wilson, North Carolina, is in custody, and Cannon Hinnant’s name has been trending on social media along with the hashtag #SayHisName, which is often used after police 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. Cannon’s 2 Young Sisters Saw the Shooting, Reports Say
Cannon has two sisters, 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 then 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.”
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.
“#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 on Facebook.
2. The Motive Is Unclear, but the Shooting Was Not Random
At his first court appearance, the judge said 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.”
Cannon’s father Austin Hinnant and Sessoms were already acquainted, so the shooting was not completely random. But the motive is not clear, according to WRAL.
The two men had just had dinner and visited with each other over the weekend, the television station reported, but the father said there was no “bad blood” or words between them before the shooting.
“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. Cannon 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.
3. A GoFundMe Page Was Set up to Help the Boy’s Family With Funeral Expenses
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.
4. People Offered Tributes to Cannon Online
People offered tributes to the boy, with some saying his race meant he was getting less attention nationally. “what a sweet little boy, who will never enjoy life. the whole country needs to know about him. justice for him and his family ! prayers are with you,” wrote one woman on the GoFundMe page.
“How dare they ignore it because of the emphasis put on race,” wrote another person who donated. “It’s all backwards because it doesn’t fit their ‘agenda.’ Shame on all of them. My prayers are with you and your family. I hope you can find some sort of peace in this- my heart goes out to you.
Another woman added: “I can’t imagine your pain. Praying for the peace and comfort that only Jesus can provide. May Cannon’s life become a beacon for change. I will #sayhisname in prayers every day. May God bless you all.”
5. Sessoms, Who Lived With His Parents, Has Two Pending Felony Drug Cases
WRAL reported that Sessoms lived with his parents and that Austin Hinnant, who has lived next door for eight years, has no idea why his son was killed.
CBS17 reported that it took some time for police to track Sessoms down. He has a serious criminal history.
“He is a felon who has served multiple prison sentences,” the CBS17 journalist said on the air. “He has two pending felony drug charges in Wilson County.”
The Wilson Times said 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.”