'He meant the world to me': Family, friends honor life of Cannon Hinnant, the 5-year-old boy shot and killed while riding bike in Wilson

WILSON, N.C. (WTVD) -- Family members and friends gathered Thursday evening to honor the life of Cannon Hinnant, the 5-year-old boy tragically shot and killed while riding his bike in Wilson last weekend.

More than 100 cars filled the funeral home parking lot and other nearby places. Family, loved ones, and strangers all showed up to lift up Cannon's family during an unthinkable time.

Merrill Race, Cannon's grandfather, spoke to ABC11, expressing his pain and disbelief, "we shouldn't even be here." Race, a member of the local Guardians of the Children, describes his grandson as a "beautiful kid" who loved playing outside.

Lee Parker, Cannon's stepfather, said he helped raise the young boy with his wife, Bonny Waddell.

Neighbor of Cannon Hinnant says: 'We all loved him'
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"He meant the world to me, just like all the other kids that are mine I helped raise," Parker said.

Parker recalled getting the phone call on August 9, learning Cannon had been shot, allegedly by a neighbor. He went on to say it shook him to his core.

"I received the call, man. I was riding down the road, and I just blacked out, couldn't even think for a few seconds, took me a minute to register it," Parker said.

Since Sunday, Cannon's death has garnered national attention. People all across the world have been using several hashtags with Cannon's name, sending prayers, words of encouragement, and even monetary donations.

Cannon Hinnant's stepfather says he was "a loving little boy, loved everything, loved everybody"
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"From Australia, Ohio, Colorado, I mean, it don't stop. It's all around the world," Parker said.

Darius Sessoms, 25, is in jail on no bond, facing a first-degree murder charge. The Wilson Police Department has not released any information regarding a motive.

RELATED: 25-year-old Wilson man arrested in shooting death of 5-year-old, police say

The family said Cannon was set to start kindergarten this week. His grandfather is angered that anyone would do this to a child who was just outside being a kid.

"That's evil. I never met this guy in my life, but that is one evil dude. He's there where he should be," Race said.

Neighbors, too, were distraught over the little boy's death.

Race and Parker said their family is missing a loving, free-spirited young boy who will be deeply missed and impossible to replace.

"It'll never be behind us. He'll always be with us, but we're going to get through it," Parker said.

The family intends to hold a vigil, but no details or dates have been announced. Right now, they said they need some time to mourn and heal.
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