New details emerge after deadly playground attack

KENTWOOD, Mich. — A community in Kentwood is in mourning following a fatal stabbing that took place between two kids on the playground Monday evening.

It happened Monday at Pinebrook Village Mobile Home Park at about 6 p.m.

Victim: Michael Conner Verkerke, 9, Kentwood, Mich.

Victim: Michael Conner Verkerke, 9, Kentwood, Mich.

Police said four children were at the playground inside the mobile home park when a 12-year-old pulled out a knife and began stabbing Michael Conner Verkerke, 9, repeatedly in the back.

Adam Zachow, who lives across the street from the Verkerke’s, said his kids spend the weekend playing with Michael, who goes by his middle name, Conner.

“For about a year and a half, they were good, little buddies,” Zachow said. “They played, they had fun…road on their bikes…played in the sand park…did what little boy’s do.”

Police said after the stabbing, ran to his home, which is two short blocks from the playground. Once he arrived, he collapsed on the porch. Conner died a short time later at a nearby hospital.

“It just made me wonder what two children could have that big of a conflict about,” Zachow, said. “I think the kid just came to do it. I don’t know…I don’t… it’s hard to grasp…I just don’t get it.”

FOX 17 spoke with some other people who live close to the Verkerke residence.  One person said they saw Conner’s brother carrying him down the street after the stabbing. They said once the boy could no longer hold Conner he laid him down.

During that time, one witness, who wants to remain anonymous, said the suspect was lurking around the corner. That person tells FOX 17 the 12-year-old, who police identify as Jamarion Lawhorn, came out and asked to borrow a phone. That’s when Lawhorn called 911 and turned himself in. He then, according to the witness, said he took some pills earlier in the day and that he wanted to end his life. However, police have not confirmed that information.

A candlelight vigil will be held for Conner on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the playground where he was stabbed. A GoFundMe account is also in place to help pay for funeral expenses.

“My heart goes out to them. I can’t even imagine what they’re going through right now,” Zachow said. “It was normal for me to sit out here and watch them all play on their bikes out in the road, but it’s going to be different now. I’ve still got to figure out how to break it to my children.  How do you tell, ya know, an 8-year-old little kid that their friends no longer because of a stupid decision of another child.”

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