SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth – Three children have been left traumatised after witnessing their uncle, Devar Garwood, 27, being shot dead shortly after he picked them up from school near here, on Tuesday.
The children, who are cousins, and all aged six years old, although not physically harmed were Wednesday being closely monitored and were to receive counselling following the ordeal, which happened mid-afternoon at the intersection of the Park community entrance and the Santa Cruz main road.
Relatives told the Jamaica Observer that Garwood, otherwise called "Bull", a mason of Institution Drive in Santa Cruz, regularly took the children to and from school at Park Mountain Primary.
A police report said that about 3:30 pm Garwood was driving a motor car transporting the children when armed men travelling in another vehicle opened fire hitting him. The motor car driven by Garwood subsequently crashed as he slumped over the gearshift. Detectives reportedly found six spent shells while processing the scene.
"We have persons from the guidance unit coming in to offer counselling. They will be meeting with the students in their classes, they will be having sessions with them, and then for the ones at home we will probably conduct a home visit and see where we can go from there. For right now, we are just doing situational analysis to see what it is that they will need, but we are offering all the support that we can give at this time," said a source.
"It was a traumatic experience and these things tend to remain with us, even though they are six," added the source.
Councillor Christopher Williams (Jamaica Labour Party, Santa Cruz Division) said the ordeal reflects the level of lawlessness in the country.
"The incident is very unfortunate. [In] our country, we can see lawlessness taking over; these criminals have no regard for lives and they act anywhere, anytime, and it doesn't matter in the presence of who… This young man was killed in the presence of three young children," said Williams.
"You can just imagine how traumatised the children are, and for the rest of their lives, to witness something like that and I must say to the authorities, provide the necessary counselling that these children will need to help them to move on from what they have witnessed," he added.
Grief-stricken relatives, menawhile, have warned of possible reprisals for Garwood's death.
The relatives said Garwood was not a troublemaker as they describe him as being jovial.
"Everything him do or seh comes out smooth. He is not a troublemaker. Him and nobody nuh inna nuh war or argument weh mi know of," said one relative.
Another relative said one of the three children told her to stop crying following the incident.
"When mi a cry she a seh 'Mommy, stop', but when mi not talking to her she a look out a space," said the relative.
Williams has appealed for people to use amicable ways of resolving problems.
"Let us care more for each other. Let us find ways to solve our problems that we are having. Killing each other cannot be the way to go, and it is very disturbing and worrying… I don't know what the problems were, but I am just saying, let us solve [them] in a different way, we don't have to go around murdering each other like this," he said.
The mid-afternoon killing resulted in a pile-up of traffic for over five hours as police cordoned off the main road close to the town of Santa Cruz to process the scene.