Keron Anderson may have spent ten years in prison for making a few mistakes in life, but the 33-year-old died doing what he felt was right: standing up for others.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Anderson was killed while trying to protect fellow passengers from a knife-wielding man on a city bus in Detroit on Dec. 19. Witnesses say 55-year-old Kirk Knight, 55, of Detroit charged at Anderson, stabbing him in the chest.
Knight was charged with first- and second-degree murder; he has an April 3 hearing in Wayne County Circuit Court. His lawyer, on the other hand, says that his client was stabbed in the leg during the incident and was defending himself.
Scott Hill, one of the strangers Anderson was defending, says the the ex-con’s actions saved he and his girlfriend’s life.
“He definitely stuck his neck out there for complete random strangers,” Hill said of Anderson. “The guy was a hero.”
Here is a breakdown of what happened on that fateful night:
The confrontation that led to Anderson’s killing unfolded quickly.
Hill said he and his girlfriend, Delaney Cam, 20, were running to catch a northbound bus at Woodward and John R when Knight, who was waiting to ride, elbowed him in the throat.
“He said, ‘Detroit’s a dangerous place. Don’t be running up on people,’ ” Hill said of the exchange about 11 p.m. Dec. 19.
Hill recalled an escalating back-and-forth volley of tense words, with Knight mistakenly fixated on the idea that Hill and his girlfriend had threatened him. Hill said his girlfriend was pushed at one point.
As the group boarded the bus, the bickering continued. Bus driver Howard Pickens testified during Knight’s preliminary examination Jan. 13 that the couple with whom Knight was arguing were clearly intimidated. And that’s when Anderson spoke up.
“(Anderson) asked him not to hassle the couple because they meant him no harm,” Pickens said.
But Anderson’s words only redirected the anger, with Knight telling Anderson to mind his own business.
The exchange continued until Knight pulled out a knife, charged at Anderson, who had been seated, and stabbed him, Pickens said. The bus driver said Knight fled through the back of the bus but returned later for his bag. Hill said he still had the knife in his hand.
Anderson died the next morning at Detroit Receiving Hospital.
Andrea Williams, the mother of one of Knight’s two sons, told The Free Press that Knight is mentally ill. He had been in and out of treatment and was often homeless, she said. Williams described Knight as a small man — about 5-foot-7 or 5-foot-8 — who was often bothered by people in the neighborhood.
“Kirk was a little paranoid, a little sick,” she told The Free Press.
Family members describe Anderson as a good person who struggled to make it in life.
“He got caught up in the streets, but Karon, he meant to do right,” said his aunt Colette Anderson, 43, also of Detroit. He spent 10 years in prison on drugs and weapons charges. Still, “he was like chivalrous in an urban sort of way,” she said.
Kierra Anderson, Anderson’s 14-year-old daughter, is a ninth-grader at Cass Tech High School in downtown Detroit. She remembers her father breaking up fights when they rode the bus together.
Her father got his GED when he was in prison and expanded his vocabulary by reading the dictionary.
On the night Anderson died, his mother, Jewell Williamson, says she last saw her son at home around 6:30 p.m. when he left to get groceries. When he didn’t return, she assumed he had gotten into a fight and was jailed–it had happened before. She had no idea he would not ever return.
“I loved him. He was my life,” she said.