Family believes 9-year-old Detroit boy's deadly fall was accident

Funeral is Tuesday for 9-year-old Detroit boy who jumped from apartment window


A Detroit boy jumped from the 9th floor of an apartment building to his death Wednesday night on West Grand Boulevard near 14th Street.

A vigil was held Friday night outside Jerrod Burnett's home at the Young Manor Apartment complex, the building from which he fell to his death. Family members asked mourners to gather between 9-9:30 p.m.

A funeral is planned for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at Solid Rock Baptist Church on West Seven Mile Road in Detroit. The viewing will be held from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday at Peace Chapel Funeral Home on 7 Mile Road in Detroit. The family has set up a fund to help pay for Jerod's funeral at the funeral home.

Watch: Witnesses recall boy's jump from building

Jerrod lived at the complex with his family. Family members and neighbors said Jerrod knew he was going to be in trouble for stealing something from a nearby store. His sister told on him and rather than face a punishment, the little boy ran to the window and jumped.

Family members said Jerrod had stolen water balloons on that hot Wednesday afternoon from a Family Dollar store. As he walked back to the apartment building with his 15-year-old sister, she called their older brother, Tyreese, to tell him what happened.

"I talked to him and said, 'We don't do that,'" Tyreese said. "When I talked to him, he knew I was on his butt."

Jerrod fell to his death moments after the phone conversation with his brother. His mother, Carol Burnett, said she was asleep on the couch.

"He was a good boy," she said. "First thing he do every morning is hug me, say, 'Momma I love you,' every morning."

Jerrod was an A and B student who was spending the summer swimming, playing sports and video games. The window is close to the floor and there was no lock in place to limit the opening.

The family cannot imagine his death was a suicide. They believe it was a terrible accident. One theory is that Jerod's passion for Spiderman may have led him top believe the jump wouldn't kill him.

The family clings to their gut feeling that it must have been an accident.

Witnesses recall moments after boy's fall

Witnesses on the ground could barely talk about what they saw.

"It's just so sad to see a little boy lose his life like that," said Michele McCray.

McCray was sitting outside under trees for some shade in front of the apartment building when Barnett jumped.

"I heard a thump and I thought he must have fallen from so high up," she said.

Dlorean Atkins ran to help as police loaded Barnett into a squad car and rushed him to the hospital. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Henry Ford Hospital.

"Both his arms was broke, bones coming out in the same spot. It didn't look good," said Atkins.

Family members are telling police it's not the first time the 9-year-old boy threatened to jump from the window. Pastor Barak Holmes Jr., who is the family's pastor as well as related by marriage, said Jerod was a fun-loving, sweet kid.

"The family is extremely distraught right now, extremely hurt. We didn't start out the day expecting to bury a 9-year-old," he said.

Family members told police the boy threatened to jump just last month.

Copyright 2012 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.