Martin “Marty” Cobb, an 8-year-old hero who rushed to defend his sister against a sexual assault, was viciously hit in the head with a brick by her attacker and died at the scene, reports WFLA.com.
The assault took place on a railroad track in a close-knit community in South Richmond, Va.
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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 [brick] 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.”
Young Martin was a student at Redd Elementary School. Richmond Public Schools released the following statement:
“Our top priority is ensuring the safety and well-being of our students and staff. 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.”
“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.”
Martin’s mother, Sharain Spruill, told ABC 8News Reporter Mark Tenia that he was taught to look after the women in the family.
“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.”
According to WFLA, a formal White House petition has been filed, asking the Obama administration to posthumously recognize Martin for his efforts to save his sister.