Orlando Anderson Jr gave really good hugs. He liked to dance, especially the floss. Family friends, family and his teachers at Acquinton Elementary School said Anderson had only decided to be one thing in life: happy.
Anderson was robbed of that future. He died on Jan. 23. The 8-year-old boy was fatally shot on Jan. 21 at a home in the 100 block of Robin Lane in King William County, according to the Virginia State Police.
On Saturday, more than 300 members of the community gathered to remember Anderson, known by his nickname “Lil Scrappy,” and to support the boy’s parents and older sister as the Virginia State Police continues its search for the shooting suspect.
“I know he’s never going to be forgotten,” Anderson’s mother Alexis Mines said. “It’s going to hurt for awhile. I’ve been getting videos of him everyday dancing...(he was) my life.”
As the throngs of well-wishers, supporters, teachers, family and law enforcement filled the parking lot of Anderson’s school, a person stepped up to a portable microphone and invited a group of Christian pastors to the center of the crowd.
Rev. Marvin Fields of Hanover Second Mount Zion Baptist Church told the mass of people that while the Lord works in mysterious ways, goodness had already come of Anderson’s death with the Saturday night gathering. It showed the family that people cared, and they needed that, Fields said.
Minutes later, the crowd fell silent for a moment to remember and honor Anderson. Then, on a count of three, hundreds of orange, silver and blue balloons were released into the sky.
For Anderson’s cousin, Mykaela Thomas, 15, the happiest she’d ever seen Lil Scrappy was when he played with her nephew. The two boys would run around the yard and squirt each other with water guns.
Family members said Anderson loved to play basketball and dance. He loved school, and his mother, Alexis Mines, said people called her since he started school to let her know her son had complimented them or showed them respect when others might not have.
Anderson’s father Orlando Sr, known by his nickname “Scooby,” lamented the loss of his child. Both Mines and Orlando Sr remained choked up, barely able to say a word during the hour-long vigil.
At one point, well-wishers hugged Orlando Sr, queueing up for over 20 minutes in a mass of tearful humanity.
“It was never a dull moment with him,” Mines said of her son. “He brought joy to me, and I see now, he brought joy to a lot of other people. That was my baby.”
After the vigil was over, Orlando Sr said law enforcement had given the family no timeline on when they might charge and arrest a suspect.
The shooting occurred near midnight on Jan. 21. The King William County Sheriff’s Office was called to after a man entered the home and shot a firearm before he fled the residence. Police believe it was an isolated incident.
Anderson was fatally shot inside the home and taken to the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center with life-threatening injuries.
The incident remains under investigation by the Virginia State Police.
Anyone with information on this incident is encouraged to contact Virginia State Police at 804-553-3445 or #77 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329, by email at email@example.com and on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.