KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — The day after a 9-year-old was stabbed and killed in a Kentwood neighborhood, residents came together to show their children not to be afraid.
Michael Connor Verkerke, 9, was stabbed in the back multiple times at a playground at the Pinebrook Village mobile home park. Authorities have charged 12-year-old Jamarion Lawhorn as an adult in juvenile court with the crime.
Tuesday, neighbors came together for a National Night Out gathering that had been scheduled for months. There was food, games for children and a bounce house at the event, which is part of a nationwide effort to encourage neighborhood crime prevention programs and cooperation with law enforcement.
About 185 families live in Pinebrook Village. Nearly everyone knew the boy who was killed, who went by Connor. Neighbors say the death has been hard on everyone, including the children who often played with Connor.
They said that’s why the National Night Out event was so important.
“I think it’s important for the other neighborhood kids,” resident Kelsey Beukema said. “There was a tragedy, but we are thinking of Conner’s family through the whole night. We are thinking about them. It’s good for the little kids to still be able to have fun and not feel terrified of their neighborhood.”
Neighbors say the tragedy has brought their community closer.