An alleged dispute between two cousins on Friday is being labelled as the cause of the shooting death of a two-year-old boy on Sunday in Trelawny.
The deceased child has been identified as Adrian Campbell, affectionately called Chubby. Campbell would have turned three years old on Friday.
The alleged perpetrator, who police believe was trying to go into hiding after committing the crime, was nabbed by lawmen during a stop and search operation. Detectives were last evening still gathering evidence as they prepared to lay charges against the accused.
According to Deputy Superintendent (DSP) Winston Milton, officer in charge of the Trelawny Division, police received a call about 8:00 pm and responded to a shooting in Mack Hill District, Clark’s Town, in the parish.
“Our response was multifaceted in that we had one unit proceeding directly to the scene of the crime while another unit was involved in a stop and search operation on a critical corridor leading from the scene of the crime.”
According to DSP Milton, investigations so far have revealed that two male cousins were embroiled in a conflict. One of the men left the scene and returned with a firearm which was used to open fire at his cousin, who was seated in a Honda motor car.
Milton further reported that the bullets missed the intended target and hit Campbell — the two-year-old boy — who was seated in the rear of the car. The boy was rushed to the Falmouth General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
On Monday, founder of Hear the Children’s Cry Betty Ann Blaine condemned the incident and expressed sorrow over what she referred to as Jamaica being fed on a steady diet of child abuse and murders, with children as the victims.
“This case is very distressing and, certainly, I send condolence to the family and loved ones. This is another very alarming and disheartening case and there are too many of them in this country. Week after week, month after month, [you] hear about vulnerabilities of children and the levels of abuse and murders. We are angry! Are we prepared as Jamaicans to unite and do something about this? It can’t be that this is the new norm. Children for a long time have been what people call collateral damage.
“Children have been fatally killed because they are in a certain place. Sometimes they are walking and they get shot and killed. Sometimes they are even in their yards and the criminals come after the adults and the children are there. Children are everywhere. Oftentimes they are killed not as direct targets but as collateral damage. It is unacceptable. Children should be safe, especially in their homes,” Blaine insisted.
Residents of Mack Hill were on Sunday night up in arms about the situation. Trelawny continues to grapple with domestic violence.
When the Observer visited the community moments after the incident, the news team was told that Shavel Gallimore, Campbell’s mother who is said to be in an advanced stage of pregnancy, had to be admitted in hospital after learning of her son’s killing.
According to Ricardo Brown, who identified himself as the man who had the dispute with the suspect, the disagreement came about because the would-be killer slapped Brown’s pregnant spouse in the face.
On Sunday Brown came under gunfire while he was taking Adrian to purchase ice cream. In a bid to escape the frightened Brown sped off from the scene, oblivious that the child was harmed.
On Sunday residents, who milled around the area where the car was still parked following the shooting, recounted that the child’s mother rushed to the motor vehicle while shouting that her son was inside the car.
When she opened the door and saw the boy drenched in blood, she collapsed, residents claimed.
Speaking to reporters, Brown, whose face was contorted with grief, spoke of his ordeal in-between sobs.
“The youth run from up there so and start firing gunshot into my car and then mi drive off. When mi reach up there so mi find out seh the baby get shot,” he said, as tears ran down his cheeks.
“Friday he hit my babymother in her face and I retaliated,” he explained.
The suspect’s mother expressed that she was upset as a result of her son’s alleged actions.
“I don’t eat anything since Sunday night. If me did catch him I would use my machete to slap him,” the distressed mother said while wailing.
“I am tired to talk to him and tell him to get something to do. He is in one bad company,” she lamented.
Another family member, Maureen Gooden, bewailed the child’s death.
“They are closely related. He shot at Ricky for nothing at all. They are two sisters’ pickney dem; a just one family,” Gooden said, staring into space.
One man who was among a gathering at a shop condemned the killing and said, “Dat boy not supposed to live to come back on the road,” he rued.
Another man chimed in: “When me see the little pickney, mi feel it! Cold sweat a wash me. Me a imagine how the father feel when him hear. It’s not my child and me feel it so. Dem idle bwoy yah mus’ leave di community!”
One resident who accompanied the bleeding baby to the hospital reported that the boy bled profusely and “was fighting to catch breath in my hands all the way to the hospital”.
“When we took him from the car at the Falmouth Hospital, blood a run out of him like pipe burst,” he recalled.