Regional

Untold hardships

Paralysed man needs help after being shot

BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, May 15, 2014    

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GRANVILLE, St James — His warm smile and easy charm disguised his underlying sadness, as he spoke with our news team at his Gordon Crescent home in the tough Granville community in St James on the weekend.

For almost a decade, life has been a very tough journey for 30- year-old Gary Minto, due to a brutal attack on him by a lone gunman at his friend's house at Brown's Lane in the community.

The incident which occurred at about 7:30 pm on December 8, 2006, has left Minto paralysed from the waist down.

"About seven of us were at Brown's Lane visiting a friend who had just come from England when a gunman came up and said, 'Nobody move.' He fired one shot, which hit me in one of my legs. I tried to run away but he chased me and fired more shots; another hit me in my side and another in my back," Minto told the Jamaica Observer West.

"Then he stood over me and put the gun at my head and I asked him why he wants to kill me; he did not answer, but instead he pulled the trigger. Luckily, the gun did not go off, apparently because the bullets were finished," he recounted.

During the shooting, the other persons who were at the house reportedly escaped unharmed.

The injured Minto, however, was taken to the Cornwall Regional Hospital where he spent the first three days of his six- month- stay at that medical facility in the Intensive Care Unit, before he was sent home.

"Up to now nobody seems to know why I was attacked and shot. I don't even know the gunman, who was dressed at that time in a black and white shirt, black pants and a black hat," he pointed out.

He added that as far as he knows no one has been charged in connection with the incident.

When contacted earlier this week, an officer at the Freeport Police Station in St James confirmed the shooting incident, but he was unable to provide details on the outcome of the investigations.

A graduate of the Granville All Age School, Minto was a promising footballer and harboured hopes of representing Jamaica at the national level in the sport.

Prior to the incident he was a regular fixture in the Granville Football Club's team, having previously represented Wadadah and Seba at the Division One level.

The incident has not only forced Minto to abandon his dream of donning the national colours, but has also caused him to join the unemployment line.

"I used to work at a box drinks company in St James but I wasn't able to go back after the shooting, and without a skill it's really hard to get a job now," he argued.

Now Minto spends his time at home, oftentimes pondering on the path his life has taken since he was shot by the unknown assailant.

His greatest needs now, he said, are to acquire a wheelchair and to get a job.

"I really need a wheelchair now, because the one I had fell apart about two years ago," said Minto, who moves around the house with the assistance of family members and friends.

"It would be good too if I could get the opportunity to learn a skill, maybe learn to repair cellphones and computers, but right now I don't have the money to do anything like that," he stated.

He added, however, that his mother, Jennifer Pringle, other family members and friends, have been trying their best to assist him financially.

Pringle, who operates a small grocery shop in the area, told the Observer West that "it's difficult at times, but by the help of God" she gets by.

"It's really rough on me especially, because his father who is overseas left here from he was nine months old and we haven't heard from him since, so my son (Minto) never even knew him. I really wish I could do more for him, but right now I can't," said Pringle.

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