12-year-old charged in fatal playground stabbing
KENTWOOD, Mich. (AP) — The giggles and innocence neighbors associated with the playground at the Pinebrook Village mobile home park vanished in the screams of a 9-year-old boy, who witnesses and authorities said was stabbed in the back by a 12-year-old.
The older boy now faces a murder charge, and authorities say they are still investigating what led to the attack.
“The kids, I thought they were just playing,” neighbor Barb Poelman, 50, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “They’re always out there playing.”
Michael Connor Verkerke, his brother, his best friend and another child were playing Monday on the playground in Kentwood, near Grand Rapids. Witnesses said one boy pulled a knife and stabbed Michael in the back.
“We were sitting right on our deck,” Poelman said. “We heard the kids run across the front … screaming. He (Michael) ran with the kids that were with him.”
Witnesses and police said Michael ran to his home and collapsed, bleeding on the porch. His mother, Poelman said, pleaded for help on the grass outside.
“She was screaming, ‘Where is the ambulance?’ while her boy was laying on the porch bleeding,” Poelman said.
Michael died a short time later at a hospital.
The 12-year-old, meanwhile, went to Glen Stacy’s home nearby after the stabbing, witnesses said. Stacy told The Grand Rapids Press the boy asked to use his phone. He said the boy called 911 to report the attack and turn himself in.
Stacy said he also called police and described the boy as “very calm.”
“The only time he raised his voice was when the police came,” Stacy said.
When officers arrived at the mobile home park, they first went to aid the stabbing victim, but the older boy wanted the officers to pick him up and yelled, “‘Hello, I’m right here. You’re going the wrong way,”’ Stacy said.
Kentwood Police Chief Thomas Hillen said authorities were still investigating a motive for the attack.