Jamaican teenager’s death being probed by authorities in US Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Four days before his 17th birthday, a Jamaican teenager, Justin Johnson, died under mysterious circumstances after a reported incident with three of his schoolmates last Friday night in Lower Paxton Township, Pennsylvania in the United States.

The three schoolmates – apparently all white – chased Justin while reportedly hurling racial slurs at him.

The 16-year-old Jamaican, who has sickle cell disease, managed to run inside his house, but shortly afterwards contacted his father, telling him that he had difficulty breathing.

Justin later died at the Hersey Medical Centre.

An autopsy is scheduled, as police investigators hope to shed more light on the circumstances surrounding his death.

Speaking with ABC27 News on Monday, Justin’s father, Orville Johnson, described his son as having been “very special”, and said Justin was his “life”.

Said Johnson about his son: “My son is a special son. He’s very special”.

Justin was to celebrate his 17th birthday on Tuesday.

The Central Dauphin High School 10th grade student moved to the district two years ago from Jamaica, according to his father.

On the night of April 26, Johnson said three young men showed up at their Bianca Drive home in the Stray Winds development. Johnson said his son told him the three were members of the school’s football team.

Surveillance footage appears to show the teenagers chasing Justin outside the home while using racially insensitive language, the elder Johnson said.

“Where did he go? He went to (expletive) Africa?” one of the chasing boys can be heard yelling in the CCTV footage which has been circulating online.

At the time, Johnson said he was at work, but remained in contact with his son by phone throughout the ordeal.

The father said Justin called him after going back inside the house, complaining of having trouble breathing.

According to the father, Justin suffered from sickle cell disease and was not supposed to overexert himself.

By the time Orville Johnson returned home, he found his son unconscious on the floor.

“I called 911 immediately and they told me what to do. They called me and said I have to come to the hospital because they’re not getting a heartbeat, and I didn’t see him since,” the distraught father recalled.

While uncertainty remains about why the incident occurred, Johnson said his son loved school and was trying out for the football team at Central Dauphin High School.

In another media interview, Johnson said he recognised the boys who chased his son from an earlier visit to his home on April 22. It was at that time that Justin told his father that the boys were members of the school’s football team, Johnson recounted.

The Lower Paxton Township Police Department said no charges have been filed yet, but an investigation remains ongoing.

The police requested tips or videos related to the case from the public.

On Monday morning, the Central Dauphin School District released a statement saying they were “saddened to hear about the passing of Justin Johnson”.

The district acknowledged reports that Justin “was subjected to racial insensitivity from classmates,” adding that such behaviour is inconsistent with the school’s core values.

“We are aware of the social media posts (about the incident) and are cooperating with local law enforcement,” the school district stated.

Principal of the school, Eric Shrader, also emailed parents confirming Justin’s death, and said counsellors were available to support students and staff.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) also released a statement on Monday, expressing condolences to Justin’s family and friends.

The agency said it is “very concerned” about the alleged racist actions, and it will continue to monitor the situation.

“Hate has no place in Pennsylvania and the PHRC stands committed to making sure everyone has the right to education, employment, housing and commercial property, and public accommodation free from discrimination,” the PHRC said.