Wed | Jan 29, 2020

8-y-o fears for future – August town murder and mayhem crippling education of honour roll student and schoolmates

Published:Tuesday | February 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Bianca Gardener, eight-year-old honour roll student at the August Town Primary School in St. Andrew, with her trophy.
A police officer accosts a suspect in the shooting of several persons, one fatally, in August Town, St Andrew yesterday.

Seriously concerned about the future of her education, Bianca Gardener, eight-year-old honour-roll student at August Town Primary School in St Andrew, is beseeching the authorities to put an end to the violence wreaking havoc across Jamaica for the sake of the nation's youth.

Violence came too close to home for the child, after gunmen unleashed fury in her community yesterday, killing 35-year-old correctional officer David Stewart and injuring two others, forcing her school to close its gates until further notice.

Petrified students were sent scampering for cover under desks around 8:30 a.m., as gunmen, allegedly with high-powered weapons, opened fire on persons at a section of August Town Road, a short distance away from the school located on July Road.

The police were quick to respond, challenging the hoodlums, who brazenly returned fire at the lawmen.

"We were at devotion when we heard the gunshots. The teachers told us to stay calm, and then seconds later, I saw everybody running into their classrooms. At one point, I fell on the ground while running and one of the girls said, 'Hurry and get up before the gunmen come in'," she fearfully recounted.

"Even vendors and parents from outside had to run into our classroom. One of my classmates was crying because he left his bag outside but a lady told him the bag was the least of the problem. My best friend who was under the table with me was crying, and I told her God will not allow anything to happen to her."

The dejected Gardener, who topped her class in the Christmas school term, said she was worried she might miss several lessons because of the violence, pointing out that she has a Grade Three Diagnostic Test next week.

"It makes me feel depressed. No days are promised to anybody. I am getting high 80s, 90s and 100s, so it makes me feel really bad that other students in other communities are in school, and just because of gunshots, I am missing out. I am sad we had to come home, because I was happy to be at school," she said.

Following the shoot-out, a strong police-military presence was in the community when The Gleaner visited yesterday.