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Mother of boy, 5, killed by neighbor rejects race as a factor

The heartbroken mother of slain North Carolina boy Cannon Hinnant has shut down claims that race played a factor in his death, as she reveals she is still clueless as to why her longtime neighbor allegedly killed her son. 

Five-year-old Cannon was shot in the head at point-blank range on August 9, while riding his bicycle in the front yard of his Wilson, North Carolina home with his sisters.

The family’s neighbor of eight years, 25-year-old Darius Nathaniel Sessoms, has been charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting. 

Ten days on, Cannon’s mother, Bonny Waddell, says she still doesn’t understand why anyone, especially a family acquaintance, would want to cause harm to her little boy. 

‘I don’t understand. I can’t wrap my head around it,’ Waddell told CBS17 on Monday.  

‘He was my neighbor for years. We always spoke when we saw each other. We never, never ever had arguments with each other,’ she said about Sessoms.

‘Why? Why would you do this to my child?’

Sessoms had fled the scene after fatally shooting Cannon last week but was arrested and taken into custody after police located him on August 10.

The Wilson Police Department is yet to release a motive for the tragic killing as of Tuesday.

Waddell however, says she doesn’t believe the shooting was motivated by race as some have suggested on social media. Cannon was white and Sessoms is black. 

‘This is not a race issue. This was…I don’t even know what it was. I know it wasn’t race,’ she told the news station.  

Cannon’s father Austin Hinnant also said he had been disturbed by social media posts suggesting race was a factor, telling The Wilson Times: ‘This is no racial issue.’

Hinnant told the paper the family had a friendly relationship with Sessoms and had recently invited him over for dinner and a beer. 

The two shared a beer on the front porch, Hinnant said, adding that he saw no foreshadowing of what was ahead.

‘I have no idea why he did what he did,’ Hinnant said. ‘It was literally out of nowhere. He puts a gun to my son’s head and shoots him.’ 

Sessoms’s parents have reportedly said they believe their son was on drugs and having hallucinations at the time of the shooting, according to Fox6.

Cannon’s funeral service was held last Thursday, just five days after he was gunned down. 

A day before the funeral, police in North Carolina warned about false information circulating on social media about the case, including posts that resembled news releases from investigators.

‘These are fraudulent posts,’ the Wilson Police Department said in a statement while encouraging people to report the fake Facebook posts to the social media company. 

The department repeated the ask on its Facebook page Saturday and told people to avoid sharing the posts.

In the days after the little boy’s death, donations poured into a GoFundMe page organized by Gwen Hinnant, who identifies herself on the website as Cannon’s grandmother, raising $784,948 of its $5,000 goal. 

‘This family has faced unimaginable pain because of this senseless act of violence,’ the post read..

‘We offer our sincerest appreciation in this extremely difficult time, #justice for Cannon.’

The family is also calling for the death penalty for Cannon’s killer, saying they have ‘lost a big piece of our family’, remembering the boy as a ‘big joy, ball of life.’  

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