MONTEGO BAY, St James — Questions still swirled up to late Thursday night about the gruesome murder of nine-year-old Gabriel King, which has not only shocked the nation, but has left a top lawman in St James calling for “additional powers” to cauterise the level of crime plaguing the parish.
The child, who was autistic, was found with his throat slashed, his body slumped on the back seat of his mother's car, which had been reported stolen only minutes earlier.
“This is no normal violence. When persons are willing to harm kids, this is very serious. This is something we need to look seriously at,” commanding officer for the St James Police Division Senior Superintendent Vernon Ellis told the Jamaica Observer in an exclusive interview shortly after the young boy's mother and stepfather met with lawmen at the Freeport Police Station in Montego Bay.
According to the police, approximately 11:30 am the young boy and his mother were travelling in an Audi motor car along the Tucker main road when, she said, their nightmare began.
“King was in the rear of a motor vehicle being driven by his mom. She reported that she slowed down to manoeuvre some potholes when she was approached by a man who hit her in the face, forced her door open, then pulled her from the vehicle. The vehicle was driven away with King in the back seat,” SSP Ellis recounted.
After an alarm was raised by the boy's mother, three units were deployed to the Fairfield community where the child was found inside the car with his throat slashed, SSP Ellis told the Observer. The car was found on Oak Hill Avenue in Fairfield Estate.
“Police teams were deployed immediately. Two of the police teams came into contact with the car and one rescued the mother. The teams that came into contact with the car found the young nine-year-old in the back seat, face down, covered in a pool of blood. His throat appeared to be slashed,” he said.
In addition to being autistic the child is said to have suffered from a speech impediment.
Unconfirmed reports are that King and his mother were on their way from the school for special needs students, which he attended, when the incident took place.
When the Observer visited the crime scene on Thursday afternoon, shocked onlookers gathered along the road as the boy's inconsolable mother, Amoi Leon-Issa, was escorted to the hospital by police officers. Her husband Michael Issa is the young boy's stepfather.
Councillor Kerry Thomas (People's National Party, Mount Salem Division), who was among those at the scene, condemned the boy's murder.
“I am at a loss for words. A [nine]-year-old with his throat slashed is a very gruesome act. We are in a very dark place as a people,” Thomas said.
Senior Superintendent Ellis has vowed that no stone will be left unturned in the investigation. He encouraged individuals with information to contact the police.
“Let your conscience be your guide,” he said.
With the parish of St James off to a bloody start in 2022 with 10 murders, Ellis intimated that a state of public emergency (SOE) is needed to tackle the country's runaway crime problem.
“What we need to deal with this level of violence are additional powers. Everybody knows exactly what we are talking about because we have used it before and it was significant in reducing major crimes and even the fear of crime,” he said.
“When these things happen they send everybody in shock and panic. So I would say give us what we need and then hold us accountable. You cannot not give us what we need and then you are complaining heavily about the situations that we have,” Ellis argued.
His call was echoed by Councillor Thomas, who told the Observer that he supports any crime- fighting efforts brought forward by the security forces.
“Just yesterday on the Tucker main road there were shootings mid-morning, now this. We need immediate action in St James to stop the cold-blooded bloodletting which is taking place,” said Thomas.
“We cannot continue like this. We cannot allow a few [gunmen] to have an entire parish in fear,” he added.
The councillor continued, “We are better than this, and we need to rally around the security forces. People need to start reporting and giving up the people carrying out the killings. It's just a matter of time before it may reach everyone's door.”