Uncles mourn Westmoreland teen’s death
The yard where a 17-year-old boy was shot dead on Ricketts Avenue, in Savanna-La-Mar, Westmoreland on Thursday morning.

SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — Two uncles of 17-year-old Jayre ‘Jay’ Francis , who was gunned down early Thursday morning, have painted a worrying picture of the youngster’s life.

He got caught up with the wrong crowd after a heart-breaking trail of relatives’ deaths left him adrift, dashing their high hopes for him, they said.

Francis was ambushed and killed in a yard at Ricketts Avenue in Savanna-la-Mar about 5:20 am. He was found with gunshot wounds to his head and upper body and lacerations to his neck, the police report said.

READ: 17-year-old shot dead in Westmoreland

His uncle, Liddon James, believes he would still be alive “if only him did listen!”

“I’m not gonna shield him, but he just be with the wrong crowd. He got caught up in the violence where is like he just got to find a way to survive,” said James, who lives in the United States.

He said there was a turf war brewing — “up road versus dung road” — in the gritty community of Russia and Francis lived “in the enemy zone”.

He is haunted by the memory of being told, just after attending his grandfather’s wife’s wake, that his nephew — who liked to tell jokes and loved to dance — had been killed. Those two deaths are just the latest for the grieving family. Francis’ younger brother died four years ago in a motorcycle crash. His mother died in 2020 after ailing for some time. Last year, his grandmother, James’ mother, died. She was hypertensive.

James, who is the breadwinner for the family, said lack of parental guidance led to his nephew’s early demise. With the death of his mother and grandmother, coupled with an absentee father, there was a change in the teen’s behaviour, he said.

Francis stopped attending school from the ninth grade due to financial constraints and James believes this left him with too much free time on his hands. Late last year, his uncle said, he spent time in jail in connection with a shooting incident that involved the police. James thinks his nephew was wrongfully accused in that case but acknowledges that he was not a saint.

“I always talk to him over and over. I try to get him out [of the bad company]. I tried giving him a [chicken] coop,” he said.

“I really love him, nuh matter if him good or bad,” he said while stressing that he never supported any of his nephew’s bad deeds.

Another of Francis’ uncles, Damion Rose, spoke of the dreams they had for the teenager after the death of his younger nephew.

“To tell you the truth, we expect great things. We were really looking up to him as a big nephew,” he said.

The last time he spoke to his nephew he was at an event and couldn’t talk long. He was looking forward to seeing him soon, he said, when he got word of his death.

BY KIMBERLEY PEDDIE , Observer Online Writer

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