A Michigan 9-year-old who died Monday after he was stabbed at a playground by a 12-year-old boy spent his last moments reassuring his brother that it wasn’t his fault and trying to get home to say goodbye to his parents.
Michael “Connor” Verkerke was playing with two of his brothers at a Kentwood playground when he was allegedly stabbed in the back by Jamarion Lawhorn, 12.
Connor asked his brother Cameron to help him up so he could get home and "kiss mom and dad one more time before I die," his great-grandmother Barbara Nunemaker told Fox 59.
“If anything happens to me, it’s not your fault. I’ll always love you,” Connor reportedly told his brother as they rushed home.
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Connor later died at a local hospital.
“He was a great child. He was a supportive child. If you wanted to do anything, Conner was right there with you to help you,” Nunemaker said.
Connor’s great-uncle Jim Stearns told MLive that the family is “absolutely numb” after the death. He said the attack has left park children terrorized.
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“They’re afraid,” Stearns said of Connor's two brothers who witnessed the attack.
A vigil was held for him at Pinebrook Village Mobile Home Park on Wednesday night. A Go Fund Me page to help pay for Connor’s funeral has raised more than $15,000 Thursday morning.
Lawhorn was charged as an adult with open murder. He appeared in in Kent County Family Court Tuesday trembling and crying. His attorney entered a not guilty plea and asked that he undergo a psychological evaluation.
A neighbor says Lawhorn approached him after the attack and calmly called 911 to report the stabbing.
“A young man approached my house, wanted to borrow my phone. I assumed he was calling his mother,” Glen Stacy told WXMI-TV. “Lo and behold he was calling 911 to say ‘I stabbed someone, please pick me up, I want to end my life.'”
Stearns said the Verkerke family sympathizes with Lawhorn’s family.
“Their hearts go out to the family of the young boy,” he said. “Even though we’re dealing with a different type of pain, they’ll be dealing with a similar pain every day for the rest of their lives. That’s not to be taken lightly.”
Image screenshot: Fox 59, Wood TV