The tight-knit community of North Preston, N.S., is grieving the sudden loss of Lee-Marion Cain, an eight-year-old boy affectionately known as Mar Mar who was killed in a shooting Tuesday.
Lee-Marion was a "joyous, humble kid" who gave everyone a reason to smile, said his cousin Miranda Cain, a community advocate and CEO of the non-profit group North Preston's Future.
Every summer, the Halifax-area community crowns a king and queen at a local celebration called North Preston Days. This year, Lee-Marion, who was also known to those who loved him as LeMar, was crowned king.
"He died 'King Mar Mar Cain.' He died being the king of North Preston," Cain said in an interview Wednesday, a day after the fatal afternoon shooting in Dartmouth, N.S.
The boy was in a vehicle with a 26-year-old man when shots were fired at them from another vehicle near the intersection of Windmill Road and Waddell Avenue. The man suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Lee-Marion was taken to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax where he died. After an autopsy, the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.
Const. John MacLeod of the Halifax Regional Police told a news conference Wednesday that investigators do not believe the shooting was a random incident. He would not say how the boy and the man knew each other.
Police are looking for two suspects described as Black men who were driving a burgundy SUV, possibly a Chevrolet, with tinted windows.
'It's a nightmare'
Cain said Lee-Marion's family is close and everyone who knew the boy is struggling to cope with the news of his death, caused by what she described as a "senseless" act of violence.
"The whole community is not good, and I feel personally that it's a nightmare," she said.
Cain said Lee-Marion was a Grade 3 student at Nelson Whynder Elementary. Students and teachers set up a small memorial at the school Wednesday.
Community members have been trying to support the boy's family, Cain said, by bringing food and keeping his parents company. Lee-Marion was the middle child with a younger sister and an older brother.
Cain said Lee-Marion's parents made sure he did well in school and had the opportunity to play basketball and try any other activities that interested him.
"His mom, she didn't spoil the kids, but she worked hard to make sure her kids had everything they wanted," said Cain.
Cain said there are already Christmas gifts under the tree, with one section for each of the children.
"I'm just feeling sorry for them," she said. "Christmas morning, to know that that one section is probably going to be left there. It's going to be hard for [Cain's mother] to remove that."
MacLeod said it was too early to speculate on the motive for the shooting. He said investigators are looking into possible connections to other incidents in the area — including another homicide in Dartmouth last week — but they have no information so far to suggest any connections.
During Wednesday's news conference, MacLeod repeatedly asked for anyone with information about the shooting to contact investigators.
"This has been a very tragic loss in our community and we would hope that anyone would help move this investigation forward," he said.
Information can be shared with police directly at 902-490-5020. Anonymous tips can be sent to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
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