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Jamaica College mourns - Student's murder baffles parents, teachers, colleagues

Published:Friday | October 28, 2016 | 10:00 AMJason Cross
Dorraine Saunders (left) consoles a grieving Antonio Christie at Jamaica College yesterday.
Sixth-former Naseem Milton in grief.
Police Inspector Claudia Bailey-Findlayson (centre) speaks to a student.
A student in grief over the murder of his colleague, Nicholas Francis.
Vice-principal Annie Blake Williams (left) consoles teacher Michelle Brown after she broke down yesterday.
Minister of Education Ruel Reid speaks with grieving students.
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Tears flowed as anger filled the atmosphere at Jamaica College (JC) yesterday morning during and after a special devotion session that served to mourn third-form student Nicholas Francis, who was murdered on a Coaster bus less than 24 hours earlier.

Counsellors were busy offering comforting words to many of the boys, who were inconsolable as they sobbed continuously.

Some parents also openly expressed grief and had to be comforted by the counsellors.

Francis, 14, according to the Constabulary Communication Unit, was on a Coaster bus near JC at about 4:20 p.m. on Wednesday when a man attempted to rob him.

He resisted and was subsequently stabbed several times in the chest.

"I'm feeling very badly. I am very very sad, hurt, and even angry about this. I can't understand how a 14-year-old boy is going to be beaten, stabbed, and thrown off a bus in the presence of adults. Nobody did anything and he is now dead over a watch and a phone. The phone is not even valued $3,000. It's a 'Banger' - a cheap phone - and a cheap watch," Acting Principal Wayne Robinson told The Gleaner.

Robinson also noted that reports he received from some of the boys who were on the scene were that other students chased the killer, but he managed to escaped.

Robinson said he met with Francis' class about an hour before the incident took place and he described Nicholas as a bright boy who was quiet.

"The teachers would say he needs to talk more - not a boy who troubles anyone," the acting principal said.

Robinson has since ordered his students to only take buses provided by the Jamaica Urban Transit Company.

 

ANGER ALL AROUND

 

President of the school's parent-teacher association Errol Holmes described his feelings as sad, angry, and contemplative.

"I am trying to find an answer and there is none," Holmes said. "This has been a senseless death. [He] threw him from the bus, broke his hand. ... I really hope that this man's conscience will prick him and he would turn himself in."

Major Basil Jarrett, president of the Jamaica College Old Boys' Association, told The Gleaner that the organisation's members were upset, angry, and distraught, especially as it would appear that the nation's children are not off limits to violence.

Jarrett advised that JC students look after each other, travel in groups, and urged them not to seek revenge.

Education Minister Ruel Reid, a former principal at the institution, said Francis had great potential, which has been lost to the entire nation.

"As a society, we have to stand strongly and closer together against evil and criminals. They are in the minority, but we are in the majority, but we have to stand up against them and talk what we know and defend each other against them," the minister said.

Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown Burke has expressed outrage at Francis' killing.

"A criminal on a bus with other commuters should know that there is a village protecting our children," Brown Burke said in a statement yesterday.

Yesterday, the National Secondary Students' Council (NSSC) said that with the significant increase in unfortunate incidents involving students, it was amplifying the call for the Jamaica Constabulary Force to increase patrols to monitor buses and zones that students frequent in a bid to ensure their safety.

"Additionally, students are urged to be more observant of their surroundings and reduce the use of electronic devices as this negatively affects their state of alertness," the NSSC said as it also mourned Francis' death.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com