Heartbroken father of slain 5-yr-old Cannon Hinnant bravely recounts horrific moments, donations SOAR

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The father of the 5-year-old North Carolina boy who was shot in the head and killed while riding his bicycle gave a tearful account of the tragic incident.

Austin Hinnant spoke with a local news station ahead of the funeral for his son on Thursday, fighting his emotions as he recounted the senseless death at the hands of a neighbor who had just had dinner with the family a day before.

“They were just playing in the yard like any other day,” Hinnant told WRAL, referring to Cannon, the slain 5-year-old and his 8- and 7-year-old sisters.

He recalled hearing a gunshot but not even imagining what could have happened outside that Sunday afternoon.

“The first thing that went through my mind was maybe he just fell off his bike,” he said. “The closer I got to him, the more I realized it was something far more serious.”

The suspected gunman, 25-year-old Darius Nathaniel Sessoms, was arrested Monday and charged with first-degree murder. He had just dined with the Hinnant family on Saturday and the father said they had even shared some beers.

“The Lord says to love our neighbor. I have plenty of food to go around. I just wanted to be nice,” Hinnant said, adding there had never been any issues between them.

“There wasn’t anything between me and him, any bad blood whatsoever, for him to have a reason to do this,” he said, telling WRAL about how he tried in vain to save his son.

“I screamed, ‘Somebody, please help me save my son! Help me save my son, please,'” he said. “[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.”

A neighbor who arrived with an emergency kit fell to his knees beside the father and son and prayed. During those few moments, Hinnant recalled that Sessoms was pacing gun in hand, nearby before he eventually drove off.

“I was looking at him as I was picking up Cannon,” the distraught father said. “I was so full of rage, but I couldn’t leave my son’s side. I wanted to be with my son.”

A motive for the shooting has not been released by police, but Hinnant cannot understand why anyone would have wanted to hurt the boy.

“Everybody just loved Cannon. He lit up the room,” he said.

Journalists with WRAL noted the interview was “one of those news days that will stick with me.”

It was days after the tragedy before reports began to circulate about it on mainstream media, as many slammed the press for ignoring the story because it did not fit the left’s social justice narrative. A tribute on social media, with the hashtag #SayHisName began to gain momentum.

Cannon’s grandmother launched a GoFundMe page to help with the funeral and memorial expenses, aiming to raise $5,000. At the time of this writing, the page has been flooded with over 10,000 donors giving donations more than $373,000.

As family and friends gathered at the funeral to say goodbye to the little boy who was set to start kindergarten this week, Cannon’s grandfather, Merrill Race, told ABC11, “[W]e shouldn’t even be here.”

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Frieda Powers

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