Richmond Police detectives have identified and located a juvenile teen male who is currently being medically evaluated in connection with Thursday night’s homicide and assault on the 200 block of Brandon Road that left a young boy dead.
Around 6:30 p.m. on May 1, police responded to a report of an assault on two children under 13. One child, 8-year-old Martin Cobb of Richmond, was killed while the other was taken to the hospital.
The children’s stepfather and aunt say Cobb and his 12-year-old sister were in their backyard, playing near some railroad tracks. They say a man walking on the tracks sexually assaulted the girl and cut her face. Young Martin tried to intervene and that’s when their family members say the man threw a rock at his head. He died instantly.
Initially, police were given information that the suspect was an adult white male with scraggly facial hair, but it was later determined that the victim had been threatened and intimidated by the suspect, who is a teenage black male. Warrants have been obtained for the suspect’s arrest.
Stunned neighbors and friends watched as police transformed their street into a crime scene. The devastated neighborhood had nowhere else to turn but prayer. Many gathered in a circle to pray and comfort one another.
“This is a neighborhood that has been torn and stricken and actually destroyed,” said family friend Markeita Boyd. “My heart hurts tonight.”
The 12-year-old girl is at the hospital recovering, and family members say she’s shocked and traumatized, as are the children’s parents.
“Our hearts are heavy tonight,” said neighbor Derik Jones. “Our hearts go out to this family. Our hearts go out to this community.”
Martin Cobb was a student at Redd Elementary School. Richmond Public Schools sent a statement extending thoughts and prayers to the victim’s family: “Our top priority is ensuring the safety and well-being of our students and staff,” it says. “Crisis counselors are currently in place and will continue to be made available to support our Redd Elementary School family and community during this difficult time.”
RPS also said, “We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our Redd Elementary School students, and extend our thoughts and prayers to the victim’s family and friends,”
Across the Richmond area, Martin is being hailed a hero. On Friday afternoon, Chesterfield County/Colonial Heights Crime Solvers, Inc. tweeted, “Our 1000th Tweet- #RVA’s Greatest Superhero… Heroes Live Forever,” along with a picture of the boy.
Martin’s mother, Sharain Spruill, couldn’t hold back tears as she spoke about her son, who she lovingly called “Marty,” to ABC 8News Reporter Mark Tenia on Friday.
“You the man of the house, protect the ladies, and he tried to protect his sister, and he got killed,” Spruill said. “He was a happy child, happy … my baby, my only boy.”
Pastor Theodore Hughey says he knows the victims well and the suspect. He is filled with confusion as to what happened.
“I could not grasp why anything of this nature would take place, and I even ask the question, ‘Why?'” he said. “The only thing I could say is mercy be shown to him; I don’t know what provoked him.”
A prayer vigil for Martin will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 3 at Abundance Life Church at 201 Brandon Road, Richmond, Va. 23224.
A memorial fund has also been set up in Cobb’s honor. If you would like to donate, contact any Wells Fargo bank and tell them you would like to donate to the “Keys for Marty Foundation.”
A formal White House petition has been filed, asking the Obama administration to posthumously recognize Martin for his efforts to save his sister.