Tears of grief

Westmoreland school mourns brutal murder of well-loved student

Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

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SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — Grief was heavy in the air at Godfrey Stewart High School yesterday morning as students, teachers, and other staff mourned the brutal murder of 18-year-old Stefan “Rico” Beckford.

The teenager — who made an indelible mark, both as an amicable student and a member of the school's daCosta Cup football team — was gunned down in his home on Hudson Street in Savanna-la-Mar, Saturday night.

His mother, who was inside the house, was injured in the attack.

“Presently, we have a trauma team here — nine counsellors from different institutions going to be meeting with our teachers as well because quite a number of teachers are openly mourning since this morning; our cleaners as well. So we are going to be having sessions with them. We have been having sessions with the students,” Acting Principal Emily Lawrence Ricketts, who was still shaken by the killing, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday morning.

She said the school community will never be the same again as she recounted that Beckford was a central figure there.

“A number of persons are grieving, mourning. Stefan was an integral member of the institution. He wasn't just a footballer or a student, but if you talk to anybody from the canteen, or any of the cleaners, you will hear the same thing. He was a young man who everybody knows, who everybody loves. He would go out of his way to be helpful to everyone,” Lawrence Ricketts said.

“He was a little joker sometimes. Recently we had a math camp and he was there being the usual Stefan. He is going to be missed, and he is going to be missed in such a way that I don't believe we are ever going to be the same because of losing this young man,” the acting principal added.

Taric Tomlinson from the Mathematics Department expressed similar sentiments.

“His death has really taken a toll on us because we feel very hurt by his loss. And the school, in general, I can tell you, will be affected because Stefan was a mannerly student. He is respected by all members of staff because of his demeanour and how he carries himself,” Tomlinson said.

A female fifth form classmate, who fought hard to hold back tears, described Beckford as a helpful student.

“We were both in the same class and he was a helpful one. He was very jovial... I miss him, other classmates miss him; it's rough,” she cried.

Police report that after the shooting the mother and child were rushed to Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital where doctors pronounced Beckford dead and admitted his mother.

A senior investigator told the Observer that no motive has yet been established for the attack.

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