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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Detroit Free Press) — Several hundred people gathered for a candlelight vigil Wednesday night at the park where 9-year-old Michael "Connor" Verkerke was stabbed.

Per our 10 News Crime Guidelines, we will not identify the juvenile suspect.

Family, friends, several Cub Scouts -- because Connor's 7-year-old brother, Cameron -- was a member, and neighbors from the mobile home park in Kentwood, on the outskirts of Grand Rapids, where Connor lived.

Connor was stabbed on Monday evening and he died on the way to the hospital in Grand Rapids.

The accused assailant is only 12 years old, but being charged as an adult for murder. The boy pleaded not guilty Tuesday afternoon in Kent County Family Court.

See Also: "Fed up" grandmother accused of killing 6-year-old grandson

As everybody lit candles, Jim Stearns spoke for the family.

"I've talked with all the boys, Cameron especially," said Stearns, 49, of Ann Arbor, who is the paternal great-uncle of Connor's mother. "He's in good spirits, but it's difficult. He wants to say to all of his friends here, thank you for coming. And he appreciates it. Hopefully, one day soon, we can play in the neighborhood, with our spirits held high and our hearts open."

Stearns said that Cameron is a hero for helping his injured brother get home from the playground.

"His brother got him back to his house, that's a hero," Stearns said. Everybody was trying to get Band-Aids to help; that's a hero. That's love. That's a community. Just remember that Connor was all about love."

Stearns said that Connor had one last message for his brother, Cameron: "Remember, he turned to his brother, and I want you all to remember this, and he said, 'If anything happens, it's not your fault. I'll love you forever.'"

After speaking for a couple minutes, Stearns wished he would have said one more thing.

"We really want people to understand there are other families going through this," Stearns said. "We get that the 12-year-old's family must be going through a living hell. It's a difficult time for them. Our heart goes out to them. Of course, it's painful for us."

Stearns doesn't understand it.

"I don't know," he said. "Random? I don't get it."

The event was organized by Missy Nowicki, a friend of the family

She has started a website to raise money to help pay for the funeral.

"There is nothing for the family as far as life insurance for Connor," Nowicki said. "I did it out of respect for the family. It felt it was something I needed to do. Connor's grandmother and I are very close."

After a moment of silence, everybody joined together and sang: "Jesus Loves Me."

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