Community was anticipating wedding bells, not murder
The usual gathering of members of staff and parents at the the Hope Village Basic School on a holiday weekend to prepare for the coming school week was disrupted yesterday when heavy hearts met and mourned the loss of their beloved principal.
Residents of Hope Village district in Williamsfield, Manchester, were in shock and disbelief at the first murder-suicide to occur in their community. The residents had several questions, but no answers as to what may have led to such a gruesome act.
Trained early childhood educator Gail Anderson, 42, and her fiancÈ, Jamaica Defence Force member John Williams, 43, were found on Thursday afternoon with gunshot wounds to the head.
Anderson's body was found on the bed while Williams was lying on the floor with his licensed firearm under his body.
Having recently received her master's degree in education, Anderson was hailed for her drive and dedication to the institution she headed.
"She moved to the area about four years ago, but she has been at the institution for more than 14 years as a teacher and then as a principal. She did well for the institution and she will be missed," said a school worker and friend.
She added, "Today, we are here and it's not the same. We would normally be here cleaning and Ms Anderson would be at the supermarket getting things for Monday. She was a visionary and her children were her priority. She lived for all 160 plus of them, and she cared for them more than anyone else. I know they will take it to heart".
One family member is struggling to come to terms with the tragic incident, indicating that the couple never showed any signs of instability in their relationship.
"The two of them were jovial. He is originally from Heartese, but he works in Kingston and he lived here with her. He was caring and humble and very supportive of her. If she told him to jump, he would ask how high. This is the last thing I was expecting to hear," said Errol Anderson, the brother of Gail.
Anderson, who suspected his sister's death after their mother told him to check on her, said it all seemed unreal to him.
"I went by the house on Thursday afternoon to check on her because she wasn't answering her cellphone. The gate was locked, so I jumped it hesitantly. A neighbour had told me earlier that she heard an explosion at about 1 a.m., but it sounded like car tyres."
After sharing a common-law relationship for about eight years, many residents who knew the couple were looking forward to hearing of their wedding date, not their deaths.
"There has never been a case of domestic violence in this area. We were not prepared for this at all. The two of them lived so well publicly. Nobody saw this coming," Anderson stressed.