Rock River Primary students spared trauma of shooting incident
Guidance counsellor for Rock River Primary School Jennifer Levi has revealed that students at the school were spared the trauma of the shooting incident last Monday in which a mentally ill man, known only as ‘Longman’, was killed by a policeman from the community station.
Expounding on the incident, Levi said it all unfolded while a team from the Ministry of Education was engaged in a panel discussion with the principal. They were also evaluating the various classrooms.
She shared that she was standing at the corridor when she noticed Longman walking on the school compound.
“A youth worker came up to me and said he was asking for a mask, I turned to the youth worker and said, ‘Find out from him, what he wants’,” she said.
The youth worker, she said, went to him, but never returned to her. The mentally ill man tried getting the attention of a grade-one teacher, telling her he wanted to talk to her, but the teacher indicated that she was in the middle of a class.
The matter was eventually brought to the attention of principal Nadine Raymond Sharpe, who went out to him and requested to leave the premises.
“He responded to the principal by asking her if she has gun in the school,” Levi said.
A plainclothes policeman, who was summoned, reportedly identified himself to the mentally ill.
“In a gentle manner, I heard, he held on to his hand, saying, ‘Come man, come mi bredda, make wi come offa di school compound, ‘cause dem nuh want we round here.’” Instead of complying, Levi said the attacker got boisterous and started hitting the policeman in his head with an umbrella.
GOT SEVERAL LICKS
“He got several licks, so much so that the umbrella mash up and dropped on the ground. I was told by the lady who was out there, who did the sanitisation with the kids, that the last lick he got, he staggered and when he staggered he apparently realised that the guy was serious, so he fired a warning shot in the air to scare him,” Levi said, adding that the mentally ill man got even more aggressive before the second shot was fired.
According to her, most of the teachers and students did not hear the gunfire. Those who did mistook the sound for firecrackers.
Levi said quick thinking by the team from Ministry of Education saw the decision being made to cordon off the area where the body was located. Several vehicles were parked in a circle, blocking the body from view.
“We dismissed classes and I, as the guidance counsellor, took the children in groups and I walked them through the school gate unto the main road, so there is no reason for them to be traumatised. They didn’t get the chance to turn either left or right; they did not see the dead man on the ground,” she shared.
In counselling sessions, she said they seem to be alright and are suffering no ill effects.
Commenting on the deceased, she said she was informed that several community members had called the mental health unit at the Clarendon Health Department to come and give him his medication, as he was ‘acting up’ since the weekend.
However, speaking with Parish Manager of the department Joseph Grant, said, that after he spoke with the inspector he was told no such call came in.
The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), in a statement, informed that an investigation has commenced into the fatal shooting of the mentally ill man.
INDECOM’s investigation involved the processing of the scene of the incident and witness canvassing.
The police investigative arm said the officer in question did not make himself available for an initial account to be provided, and will be served a Section 21 Notice to provide a statement and to be interviewed.
The police have stated that one officer was dispatched to the school to respond to a report of disorderly conduct by a man known to be mentally ill. It was reported that during his apprehension to be removed from the premises,, the officer was allegedly struck with a short umbrella by the man. The officer subsequently discharged his weapon at the man. The man was taken to the May Pen Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The processing of the crime scene included the recovery of the alleged weapon, and an umbrella.
On Friday, September 16, police were called to the Red Hills Road community, where a man said to be of unsound mind chased a group of people along Red Hills Road and managed to inflict chop wounds on three of them. Consequently, construction worker Phillip Bennett died as a result of the injuries he sustained.