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8-year-old killed while attempting to protect older sister

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Martin Cobb 
Martin Cobb, 8-years-old
Loved ones on Friday praised the bravery of an 8-year-old South Richmond boy they said died trying to protect his older sister from an attacker on Thursday.

“To have the courage to defend his sister as if he was a grown man,” neighbor Sudan Aunu said. “His sister is alive today because of him.”

Also on Friday, police said they had identified and located a teenage suspect whom they planned to charge in the killing of Martin Cobb and the assault on his sister. Police described the suspect only as a juvenile teenage male and said that he was being medically evaluated.
Authorities were summoned about 6:30 p.m. Thursday to the 200 block of Brandon Road for a report of an assault. Police said both Martin and his sister had been assaulted in that block, which is the same block in which they lived.

Authorities said Martin’s sister was taken to a hospital, but they declined to characterize the seriousness of her injuries.

However, an aunt of the victims, Geraldine Pitchford, said, “As far as I know, she’s doing fine. … She’s doing better. She’s OK.”

Neighbors said they believed Martin was hit in the head with a brick. Richmond Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary E. Langer said she could not confirm whether a brick was used but said police told her the boy suffered severe head trauma.

Thursday night, dozens of people gathered near the victims’ home. Many prayed and cried, some hysterically. Relatives huddled outside the home again Friday afternoon in another emotional scene.

Pitchford said the children’s mother was inside being consoled by relatives.
Pitchford said she believes the teenage suspect lived nearby but added that she has never met him.

“I’m sorry that he lost his life. He didn’t deserve that,” Pitchford said of Martin, also know as Marty.

She described Martin as warm-hearted and friendly, adding that everyone who knew him loved him.

“I’m proud of him. I’m proud that he stuck up for his sister. He did what he was taught,” Pitchford said.

Pitchford said Martin and his older sister were happy children who often played outside.
A prayer vigil is set for 7:30 p.m. today at the Abundant Life church at 201 Brandon Road, near the slain boy’s home.

Pastor Dr. Theodore L. Hughey of the Abundant Life church said the boy, also known as “Little Martin,” and his sister were inseparable and “always in and out” of the church.
“You saw one. The other was there. They were never apart,” Hughey said.

Neighbor Tracy Lightsey said she last saw the children playing together in the neighborhood on Sunday. The girl was carrying Martin on her hip, she said.

Neighbors said the children attended Redd Elementary School.

Another neighbor, Markeita Boyd, described the boy as “a happy child, full of life, full of joy. The neighborhood loved him..”

Pitchford said a fund has been established with the help of Wells Fargo Bank, called the “Keys for Marty Foundation.” Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo branch, Pitchford said.

The description of the suspect changed significantly overnight. In a statement on Friday, police said: “Initially, detectives were given information that the suspect was an adult white male with scraggly facial hair, but later determined the victim had been threatened and intimidated by the suspect, who is a teenage black male.”

Harry Hunter, another neighbor and a friend of the family, said that Thursday evening police questioned the youth who is now a suspect but let him go because they were looking for someone else at the time.

Authorities declined Friday to say who had given them the initial suspect description.
Of the boy who was killed, Hunter said, “He was so small, I used to carry him in my book bag.”

Aunu said he did not sleep Thursday night — checking and rechecking his yard — concerned with the safety of his wife and 5-year-old child.
“This whole neighborhood is shook up,” Aunu said.
(804) 649-6340
(804) 649-6391
(This has been a breaking news update. Earlier updates are posted below.)
RICHMOND -- A neighbor of the two children assaulted in South Richmond on Thursday said this morning that the child who died was a seven-year-old boy trying to protect his sister from an attacker in the 200 block of Brandon Road.

The man who identified himself as a neighbor, Harry Hunter, said he was running an errand for the family this morning asked that their privacy be respected.

Of the little boy, he said, “He was so small, I used to carry him in my book bag.”
Police said this morning that they had identified a teen-age boy and were obtaining warrants against him in connection with the death of the child and assault of the sibling.
Police have said both of the children were under 13. An age of the teen, who police said was being medically evaluated, has not been released.

-- Frank Green
(This has been a breaking news update. Earlier updates are posted below.)
RICHMOND -- Richmond police say this morning that they've identified and located a teen-age boy who is being medically evaluated in connection with the killing of one child and the wounding of another in South Richmond.

Warrants have been issued for the teen's arrest.

Police said in a news release, "Initially, detectives were given information that the suspect was an adult white male with scraggly facial hair, but later determined the victim had been threatened and intimidated by the suspect, who is a teenage black male."

Police said that at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday, officers received a call for an assault in the 200 block of Brandon Road. Officers found two juveniles under the age of 13 who had been assaulted. One died at the scene and the other was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Richmond police said they expected to release more details in the case later.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.

(This has been a breaking news update. Check back for more details as they become available. This morning's story from the Richmond Times-Dispatch is posted below.)

Richmond Times-Dispatch

One child died Thursday evening and another was taken to the hospital after an assault in South Richmond, according to Richmond police.

Police were called to the 200 block of Brandon Road for a report of an assault at about 6:30 p.m., according to Richmond police spokeswomen Dionne Waugh.

Officers arrived and found two juveniles who had been assaulted, Waugh said. One died on the scene and the other was taken to VCU Medical Center to be treated for injuries, she said.
Both victims were younger than 13, Waugh said, adding that police were searching for an adult white male with “scraggly facial hair.”

No other information was available Thursday night.

Dozens of people had gathered at the scene mourning the loss of the child. Several were gathered in a circle crying.

Tracy Lightsey, who lives four homes away from the victims, said she’s been in close contact with family members who say a young boy was killed while trying to protect his older sister during an assault.

The boy was hit in the head with an object when trying to fight the man, Lightsey said she was told by the child’s family.

Lightsey, whose children often played with the two victims, said the siblings were inseparable.

“He felt like he was his sister’s protector,” Lightsey said. “He was his sister’s keeper till his death.”


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