Vigil held for victim of fatal Kentwood stabbing

KENTWOOD, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Friends and family gathered Wednesday night to remember a little boy who was stabbed to death on a playground.

It happened Monday night at Pinebrooke Village in Kentwood, and police say the killer is another child, just 12 years old.

Jamarion Lawhorn is accused of repeatedly stabbing 9-year-old Connor Verkerke.

Detectives say the attack appears to have been unprovoked.

Family members and the community itself are struggling so much that we were asked to keep our distance during the vigil Wednesday night.

Even from a distance, though, their message was clear.

The community has had two days to wrap their collective head around the death of 9-year-old Connor Verkerke, but they still wonder how anyone could ever do such a thing.

"Thank you to the community," said Jim Stearns, who described himself as Connor's uncle. "To everyone around here, for being so strong, and loving, and kind."

He says Connor's mother and three siblings are trying to focus on the future.

"In every tragedy, there has to be some kind of a silver lining. I don't know if we've found it or can find it," Stearns said. "All I know is we need to be more vigilant as a community. We need to strike a balance between protecting our kids and giving them the freedom to understand the world."

That's something that many in attendance Wednesday night believe was made infinitely more difficult by Monday's events.

"Their heart goes out to the family of the young boy, because we know that even though we're dealing with a different type of pain, they'll be dealing with a similar pain," Stearns said of Lawhorn's family.

Stearns says he hopes we can realize what's important, the way he says 9-year-old Connor did in his last words to his brother.

"If anything happens to me, it's not your fault; I always love you."

Stearns says right now, Connor's mother is focusing on the well-being and mental health of her three other children.

Objective number one is finding them a new home.

If you'd like to help the family, you can do so by clicking here.