LUBBOCK, Texas — It’s been 53 days since 4-year-old Cor’nelius Carrington was killed in a drive-by shootout in East Lubbock. His preschool teachers and grandma told KLBK News Monday that healing hasn’t gotten any easier, especially since his killer hasn’t been found.
Monica Trevino, his senior preschool teacher at Rise Academy, said she believes two people may have been involved: one who was driving and one who shot the house.
The circumstances of the tragedy remain unclear to his loved ones, but the details hardly matter when the young child was forcibly denied the opportunity to grow up and “become president,” his grandma Wanda Benson said.
A poem that Cor’nelius recited several times a week was called “My Choice.” He learned it at school:
“Today I have a choice. I have a choice to be mediocre or excellent. I choose to be excellent,” Cor’nelius repeated to his grandma.
For a time he wanted to be a firefighter, but once he learned the meaning of “excellence,” he often told his grandma that he could be whatever he wanted when he was older. He spoke the truth. His ambition could have taken him anywhere in life.
However, those dreams no longer exist.
Missing from school
Cor’nelius was killed on the first day of his winter break.
“I never thought that one of my 4 year old babies would be killed. When I got that call, it just broke my heart. It was the most heartbreaking thing ever,” Trevino said.
It’s been 53 days since he sat in his tiny blue chair at school. His compartment has been empty for 53 days and he will never hang his coat or backpack in it again. His sleeping mat with “Cornelius” written with permanent marker has been empty for weeks.
His pencil case, containing one of each colored pencil, has not been used since December 17.
Cor’nelius’ dad took him to school every day, and he loved him so much that he sometimes got upset about dropping out because he “just wanted to spend the day with his grandfather.”
However, Cor’nelius loved school.
The lunches his grandma packed each day contained enough food to “feed the class,” his teachers joked.
“He had the best manners in the classroom,” Trevino said. “We pay tribute to his great-grandmother. His great-grandma raised him.”
His teachers said they had 22 students between the ages of three and four. Now they only have 21.
“You feel the sadness because there is sadness here. There are times when we sit [in class,] and we just start crying,” Trevino explained. “Last week I started crying in the car on the way to work. We have our periods but we try to move forward for the other kids because we need them to study.”
This year, there will be “a lot more” hugs in class.
His classmates ask every day, “When will Jesus have Cor’nelius come back?” Lakeacha Collins, Cor’nelius’ aunt and assistant preschool teacher, said.
Trevino and Collins said they read the children books about grief and dying, but they were too young to understand what happened. All they know is that their lucky friend, who loved dinosaurs, Play-Doh and cars, wasn’t in class.
During class, the preschool children sit on a carpet of letters. Cor’nelius sat on the “O for Owl” and it was empty for almost two months.
He will never experience the joy of sliding down the playground slide again.
Cor’nelius’ teachers described him as independent – a natural leader, and he loved being the leader moving from the playground to the classroom.
They said he was quiet but lovable.
Like many preschoolers, Cor’nelius absorbed information like a sponge.
He loved learning how things work in life. He enjoyed putting colorful blocks together and taking them apart again.
Before anyone took their life, they learned colors, numbers and letters. His class practiced the sounds that make compound letters.
The 4-year-old was also learning to write and “didn’t quite get it, but he tried,” Benson shared.
There are memorials in the classroom to remind students that they “don’t have to stop loving him just because he’s not in his chair,” Collins said.
A Valentine’s Day chalkboard outside the classroom has a picture of Cor’nelius with some toys tied around it with zip ties.
The teacher put a dinosaur in his closet and a student put a toy car next to it.
A plush blue dinosaur sits on Cor’nelius’ desk.
Missing from home
Sometimes Cor’nelius’ grandmother walks through the house hoping to see her great-grandchild.
“I see him all over this house. I get up late at night and go through — just to see if I can see him, and he’s not there,” Benson said through tears.
Cor’nelius loved to jump from his grandmother’s bed onto the deck chair next to it, where she often swung.
“I had a dream the other day and I just knew he was finally going to jump and I raise my arms to grab him. I knew he was going to jump on me like he always does, but I grabbed him and it was nothing but air,” she recalled. “It just hurt so much.”
Cor’nelius’ bed was stripped of sheets and most of his toys were put away. It’s too painful for his family to see every day, but they keep a few ready for fond memories.
Everyone who walked into his room knew how much he loved superheroes. He wore an Incredible Hulk costume almost every day, but he also loved Spiderman.
“He put a web on everyone,” laughed his grandma, adding that he often mimicked Spiderman’s hand gestures and shot fake webs off his wrists.
Because Christmas was still days away when Cor’nelius was killed, he asked his grandma every day if he could open “just one” present earlier. Like all parents, she always told him he had to wait. His grandma said she wished she had let Cor’nelius open some of his presents earlier.
The 4-year-old’s favorite color was red; Lila, a close second, shared his grandma, and he loved to paint.
He loved riding his blue motorcycle on the pavement and wanted to get a bigger one as he got older.
Benson once told Cor’nelius that he looked like “Casper”. She said Cor’nelius didn’t mind the new nickname because “Casper is a friendly spirit”.
His family said they miss his excitement when he learned something new at school and couldn’t wait to tell them. He loved practicing “eye words” at home.
One of the special occasions Cor’nelius looked forward to was when his great-grandfather would bring a different watermelon every summer day. He always urged his great-grandparents when he cut the watermelon. He couldn’t wait for a foretaste.
Cor’nelius loved his papa more than any of his toys, but he loved his grandma just as much.
“I knew Cor’nelius loved me because Cor’nelius told me every day – nobody in this house will tell me he loves me every day – but that little boy would look me in the face every day [saying]”Grandma, I love you. you know i love you? Give me a kiss,'” Wanda Benson explained with a laugh. “He got that kiss from me, and then he was Spider-Man.”
When his cousins came over, he’d say, “Okay, time for you to go home now,” because he cherished the time he spent with his great-grandparents, Benson said.
Justice for Cor’nelius
Both his teachers and his grandmother said Cor’nelius had an old soul – as if he had been on earth before.
“I didn’t know I had an angel when he was here on earth. I didn’t know I had an angel like that,” Benson exclaimed. “God help me.”
Collins, who watched her nephew and student grow from a newborn to a 4-year-old, said the death of Cor’nelius was hard on his brother, who was afraid to go outside because he “wouldn’t be shot.” ” wool. ”
Justice for the family of Cor’nelius means putting the person or persons responsible for his death behind bars.
Finding out who is responsible could take some of the pressure off the family, Benson said.
She worries that if nothing is done it could happen again.
Trevino’s brother was murdered in 2009 and his case is still unsolved, which is why she spoke to KLBK News about the tragedy.
“I don’t want the murder of Cor’nelius to remain unsolved either,” she said.
Benson said she and her family are doing their best to cope.
“I know God has my back – I know He does – but it still hurts. It still hurts a lot and I miss him so much,” she said.
Anyone with information about the shooting that killed Cor’nelius Carrington is asked to call Crime Line at 806-741-1000 as they may be eligible for a reward of up to $13,500.