Neighbor Arrested, Charged in Shooting Death of 5 Year-Old North Carolina Boy; Motive Currently Unknown

WILSON, NC – Last week, 5 year-old Cannon Hinnant was playing in the front yard of his father’s Wilson, North Carolina home when he was senselessly gunned down and killed. The suspect in the shooting, the child’s next-door neighbor, then fled the scene.

After a search, police arrested Darrius Sessoms, 25, in connection with the crime, charging him with First-Degree Murder. As of press time no motive has been revealed for the shooting.

Cannon, who was due to start Kindergarten this year, was riding his bicycle at approximately 5:30 p.m. on August 9 when Sessoms allegedly walked right up to him and brutally shot the child at point-blank range right in the head. The killing took place in front of Cannon’s two sisters, aged 7 and 8, who allegedly saw the entire incident.

The gunshot caught the attention of Cannon’s father, Austin Hinnant, who was inside his home at the time of the incident. Reports indicate that he ran out to the yard and saw his son lying on the grass with a gunshot wound, and Sessoms standing with a firearm in his hand, pacing back and forth.

Hinnant frantically scooped up his son into his arms and began screaming for help, according to local news outlet WRAL.


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“I screamed ‘somebody help me, please help me save my son,'” he said. “I was looking at [Sessoms] as I was picking up Cannon, and I was so full of rage, but I could not leave my son’s side. I just wanted to be with my son.”

Sessoms then fled the scene in a car after Hinnant’s fiancé called 911; responding officers and paramedics transported Cannon to the hospital, where he later died from his injuries.

After a search, on Monday police located Goldsboro at his residence 30 miles away from the crime scene, and placed him under arrest. According to online records, Sessoms is being held in the Wilson County Jail without bond and his next court date is set for August 25.

Reports indicate that he had previously served two terms in prison in 2017.

What is especially unusual about this heinous murder is the fact that Austin Hinnant, when speaking to reporters, has indicated that there was absolutely no prior malice or bad feelings between his family and Sessoms, who had been his neighbor for 8 years. Indeed, Hinnant relayed to local media that he had actually had Sessoms over to his home for dinner that Saturday, with the two men drinking beers together on his porch afterwards; indeed, the lack of any apparent reasoning or motive whatsoever behind the shooting makes Cannon’s death even more tragic.

“The Lord says to love our neighbor,” Hinnant told WRAL of his dinner with Sessoms. “I have plenty of food to go around. I just wanted to be nice.”

Another aspect of this case that is raising eyebrows and stoking anger is the fact that it has received relatively little mainstream news coverage, especially when compared to the recent coverage of other violent crimes committed between people of different races, such as the death of George Floyd and the death of Rayshard Brooks. Some critics have decried the lack of attention the Cannon Hinnant shooting has generated as an example of blatant ‘media bias’ and condemned it as unfair, although it is currently unknown if race played any part in Sessoms’ motive for his alleged crime.

Cannon Hinnant’s funeral was held on Thursday. A GoFundMe page, dubbed Justice for Cannon, has been set up to assist the family with funeral costs and other expenses, and has risen over $300,000 so far. Other recent GoFundMe campaigns have drawn in significantly more; the George Floyd campaign, for example, has risen near $15 million, with the money going to care for his children and pay for their education.

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