Newsmaker: Killing of 3-y-o, injury of 5 others, shock the nation Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

This week’s featured overall development as Newsmaker of the Week is the horrific killing of a three-year-old boy and the wounding of five others, including the child’s mother and sister, by a man who is said to be mentally unstable, in Paggee, Port Maria, St Mary on Wednesday.

The man, who is said to have been deported from the United States and was living with his father in the Paggee community, was armed with an iron pipe and a knife as he allegedly took the life of the youngster, identified as Asha Campbell. The child was a student at Port Maria Gospel Chapel Basic School.

Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison, said the month of May, which is celebrated as Child Month, came to a painful close with the killing of little Asha, a child described as loving and punctual by his teachers.

Diahann Gordon Harrison

His death brought the number of children killed since the start of the year to 14, according to a statement from the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) on Thursday.

Of that figure, nine children have died from shooting incidents; three from stabbings; and two under other circumstances, the OCA said.

The office said the number of children killed is increasing, this behind the staggering figure of 30 children killed nationally last year.

The man who is reported to be responsible for killing young Asha and injuring the others, was reportedly deported after several assaults in Springfield, Maryland, USA in 2018.

US media reports said he was found not guilty of those alleged offences, due to his mental state, and he was committed to a mental hospital.

Head of the St Mary Police Division, Superintendent Bobette Morgan-Simpson, said the suspect recently arrived in Paggee and was residing with his father, who is a fisherman.

According to the official police reports, the bloodshed started between 3:30 pm and 4pm.

It is reported that young Asha was on his way home from school with his mother and his two sisters – aged nine and six years – when they were attacked.

The mother tried to defend her children during the vicious attack, and sustained several wounds to her body; her six-year-old daughter suffered a broken arm; and the other daughter managed to flee the scene unharmed.

But little Asha was brutally injured, and three men were randomly picked on by the attacker and wounded.

“The nine-year-old (girl)… didn’t get injured because she ran. He (the attacker) was not able to catch her, but… he (the attacker) just randomly picked on the (three) men and just beat dem and cut dem up,” Morgan-Simpson told reporters on Thursday.

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The police were alerted and the injured persons were taken to the hospital, where Asha was pronounced dead upon arrival.

In a viral video on social media, the mother could be heard wailing uncontrollably as her son laid lifeless in an area of the hospital.

Some of the persons who were admitted to hospital, including the grieving mother, have since been released.

The reported attacker was captured by residents and taken into custody by the police. He is expected to be charged with murder and other offences.

Residents have said the attacker was acting strangely for days leading up to the incident.

One of the wounded men who was released from hospital, said he did not know the attacker and he (the wounded man) was just coming from work.

He was treated for wounds to his head, face and hands.

“A work mi just a come from inna the evening and by time mi fi ketch a mi gate, is a man mi see rush mi from back way with piece a iron and start lick me. A mi two hand mi haffi use and bar mi head… mi nuh duh di man nothing,” the injured man told reporters at hospital.

Meanwhile, Asha’s father, Lamar Campbell, described his son as a “nice little boy”, this while tears filled his eyes.

Asha was his only biological child, and he had a simple request. “Mi need to see justice served”.

Campbell said his stepdaughter was in hospital up to Thursday crying openly for her little brother.

Teachers at Port Maria Gospel Chapel Basic School were overcome with grief as they mourned the loss of their young pupil.

“It is so hard for me. This is my first experience of losing a student, and it is going to be a very hard process getting over this,” said one the child’s teachers, Venesha Rose.

She described Asha as a vibrant child who was always pleasant, always smiling, and was punctual for school.

The teachers are being supported with grief counselling by officers at the Ministry of Education and Youth.

Meanwhile, social media users condemned the horrific killing, and called on the relevant authorities to address issues relative to persons with mental illness, especially those who walk the streets and attack persons occasionally.

“Pure mad people deh Port Maria (in St Mary) a walk up and down and a full time the Government or whomever do something man! Nice little boy gone so. RIP Asha,” a woman wrote on Instagram.

“The Government needs to remove people with unsound mind from the streets like NOW! There have been too many cases where people fell victims to their actions,” another woman wrote.

“Chopping and killing a three-year-old? What more alarming thing need fi gwaan?” the woman asked.

Shared another: “Such a cute baby boy and his life taken just like that. He had his whole life ahead of him this heartbreaking bad enough. Jah Jah.”

On Facebook, a woman said: “My deepest sympathy to his family.  Praying for the speedy recovery of the others.  This is so sad.”

Commented another: “You can imagine the painful death this little child encountered? That’s why persons with mental issues must be supervised and if (they) pose a threat to people, they are to be removed from the streets.”

A man wrote that, “It is more than heartbreaking when you see your child being attacked and you can’t save him. Sigh! RIP young one.”

Another male Facebook user pleaded with the authorities to embark on more public education campaigns to make the signs of mental illness clearer.

“If it is true that he had mental issues in America (US) before he (the attacker) was deported, his family here in Jamaica should have found some form of help (for the attacker). RIP little man (Asha). Rest up,” the man stated.