Brazen killing of teacher sparks anger and regret
Trembling in anguish after his schoolteacher daughter Chanel Smith was gunned down in the full view of infants in Treasure Beach on Tuesday morning, Vernon Smith channelled his rage into a rallying cry against cold-blooded killers.
Struggling through tears, Mr Smith called for Prime Minister Andrew Holness and National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang to champion the imposition of decades-long incarceration of the convicts of gun crimes. His appeal for justice for his 28-year-old daughter comes less than a fortnight after Holness floated his own preferred judgement of the death penalty for offenders guilty of illegal firearm possession.
“I can just imagine when she feel the first shot. She must have been saying, ‘Is this real? Is this real?’ ... Jamaica have no justice system to correct these problems,” Smith told The Gleaner on Tuesday.
“If the Government did a set stiffer penalty pon men who kill, and when you caught with an illegal firearm put 50 years pon it, and when you caught with murder put you away forever, no bother wid no lawyer, and no this, and no that, and no INDECOM, just put them away,” added Smith, referencing the watchdog agency against police excesses.
The Treasure Beach police in St Elizabeth have launched a manhunt for two gunmen who shot and killed the schoolteacher outside the Sandy Bank Infant School. They are also probing the theory that an ex-lover might be involved.
According to police reports, shortly after 7:40 a.m., Ms Smith, who lives in Sandy Bank, had just reached the school gate when she was approached by two men travelling on a motorcycle.
The men brandished handguns and opened fire, hitting Smith several times before escaping.
Ms Smith, who was shot in full view of students and other teachers, was rushed to the Black River Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Mr Smith said his daughter was one of the kindest and gentlest human beings one could ever meet, and that she was not involved in any conflict.
“Mi daughter so quiet that she barely talk to people. She not even talk loud,” Smith said as he burst into tears.
Shakera Smith told The Gleaner that her elder sister, who attended Newell High and studied at Bethlehem Moravian College, a teacher-training institution, was quite brilliant.
“She was such a kind person, doesn’t really go anywhere, just church and work, and this morning I did not even get to speak to her for the last time because I was still in bed when she left for school,” Shakera said.
“When we heard the news and rushed to the school gate, they had already taken her to the hospital.”
The St Elizabeth police say they have leads on the killing and are anticipating an early breakthrough, a senior investigator, who requested anonymity, said.
Chanel’s father, as well as several residents, is convinced that her murder may have stemmed from a relationship which went sour several months ago.
“We have been informed about that particular relationship which she broke off, and also of the threatening behaviour. That is a case which we are pursuing as we speak,” the senior cop stated.