CDC working to help Salt Spring students recover after murders

SALT SPRING, St James — Even as the Salt Spring Community Development Committee (CDC) began looking at ways to help students traumatised by Thursday’s double murder outside their school gate, word came that another person was gunned down in the neighbourhood on Friday. It was the third murder in 12 hours.

“The CDC, along with other community-based organisations and other stakeholders, are in the process of coming together, forming a support team for the school and parents and as much of the community that we possibly can reach,” CDC representative Sherrikay Morris told the Jamaica Observer Friday afternoon.

“We will be meeting tonight [Friday] with other stakeholders to discuss things that we want to do going forward,” she added.

About 1:00 pm on Thursday afternoon, students and staff of Salt Spring Primary and Infant School had to run for cover after men armed with rifles and handguns shot and killed Imani Jarrett and Odane Smith just metres from where classes were in session.

Most students wept openly following the traumatic ordeal.

Then at 1:10 am on Friday morning Anthony Forbes — who is also called Plait Up or Gummy — was shot and killed by unknown assailants. His son was injured during the incident.

Only 14 students out of a possible 170 turned up for classes at the eerily empty primary school on Friday. The infant department had no students and was closed for the day, according to Observer sources.

According to the CDC’s Morris, plans to visit the school on Friday were shelved because of low attendance, but they will try once more next week.

“Traumatised teachers, traumatised students, and traumatised community members just wondering what next to do and what next will happen — that’s basically where we are at,” she said.

The father of a child enrolled in the primary school told the Observer that he could not bring himself to send his son to school on Friday, especially with news of the second shooting.

“The place tense up, and worse it seems like a reprisal shooting go on. I just let my child stay home,” he remarked.

Another man said he heard that relatives of the slain Forbes had fled the community with the aid of the police, an indication of just how tense it is in the area. There are concerns that there may be reprisal shootings.

Morris told the Observer that while some parents have expressed shock at the situation some remain tight-lipped, afraid to even mention the ongoing challenges. She takes comfort in the support being provided by the police.

“Right now the police presence is there, so the area is calm,” she said Friday afternoon.

“We are not happy about what is happening but at the same time we want to find ways to reach the youth without it having to end up with any more loss of life,” she added.