Tue | Apr 7, 2020

Woman slain on New Year’s Eve laid to rest - Mother questions why God didn’t stop bullet or jam gun

Published:Monday | February 24, 2020 | 12:20 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Cyrena Russell (left), mother of Shantell Whyte, being comforted during the thanksgiving service for her daughter at the Royal Flat Seventh-day Adventist Church in Manchester on Sunday.
Cyrena Russell (left), mother of Shantell Whyte, being comforted during the thanksgiving service for her daughter at the Royal Flat Seventh-day Adventist Church in Manchester on Sunday.

ROYAL FLAT, Manchester:

The wails of Cyrena Russell ricocheted off the walls of the Royal Flat Seventh-day Adventist Church as she watched the undertakers wheel her daughter’s body into the building on Sunday.

Her face, distorted by pain, only spoke the language of a mother who has had to bury a child whose life was snuffed out by cold hands.

It was the last time she would be coming into contact with 24-year-old Shantell Whyte – the seed from her womb with whom she said she had an extremely close relationship.

Whyte was shot and killed on New Year’s Eve at a store where she worked as an inventory clerk, allegedly by a supervisor with whom she was believed to have had an intimate relationship.

The parish has recorded four murders resulting from domestic disputes since the start of the year.

“Before she died, she had up something on her phone thanking the Lord that she live to see 2019 and hoping that she saw 2020 ... but she never did,” Russell said

Having buried her father, sister, and mother in 2019, the mother said that she prayed, just before heading out to a watch-night service, that God would grant the family a break from what seemed like a death spell.

“As I finished praying and singing, I got the call that my daughter got shot ... . Mi fling weh di phone and say mi pickney nuh dead, she nuh dead!” Russell told The Gleaner.

“ ... I went out there and begged the police to let me see her, just to lay her on my chest. Mi neva care about the blood ... . I questioned God and ask Him, ‘Why, Jesus, you couldn stop the bullet? You couldn mek the gun stick and nuh mek it kill mi pickney?” Russell continued.

Hundreds turned up at the funeral to pay their last respects to a woman who was said to have been passionate about community development and participating in fundraising initiatives for various causes.

Shantell White was described as very personable, career driven, and caring by her father, Alton Whyte, who had his stepdaughter do the tribute on his behalf.

“She was always there to pick me up whenever I fell down. She was special ... . There was so much more that she had left to accomplish,” Alton said.

“A thousand more memories to make and so many more lives to touch ... . I consider it a privilege to have been her father.”

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