Gulfport community struggles with death of 6-year-old

Gulfport community struggles with death of 6-year-old

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Following the tragic shooting death of 6-year-old Zaylan Sparkman, the North Gulfport community is mourning the loss of one of their own.

Less than a week ago, Zaylan Sparkman was sitting in the pews at St. James Baptist Church.

"He was sitting right over there and they were asking questions about Vacation Bible School information, and they ask 'what did God tell Mary and Joseph to name their child' and Zay Zay said 'Immanuel," said Rev. Eddie Hartwell of St. James Baptist Church.

Zaylan continued, Pastor Hartwell says, by giving the Hebrew definition of the word, which means "God with Us. "

"And that was the last thing I think I heard that child say," said Hartwell.

Zaylan died from a gunshot wound at Gulfport Memorial Hospital Friday night. Police say the shooter was his brother, 16-year-old Albert Craft, III.

Craft is being charged as an adult with manslaughter.

"Unfortunately, I didn't know Albert very well. He was not a regular attendee, but now we've got an older brother that is incarcerated and a younger brother who is no longer with us," said Hartwell.

Rev. Hartwell says he's gotten a chance to speak with the both the boy's parents and their grandmother, who are all struggling to understand what has transpired.

"We're left now to try and make sense out of a senseless [crime] and understand something that's incomprehensible," noted Hartwell. "A family is left torn because now they've lost two children."

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