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Dream denied

Jahime O’Connor loved football.

It was therefore ironic that he was killed while playing the game on a street in his community.

The 13-year-old eighth grade student at Cockburn Gardens Primary and Junior High School was slain by gunmen who invaded Mongoose Town — a tough community off Waltham Park Road — and sprayed it with bullets on Sunday.

The brutal attack also claimed the life of 31-year-old Akino Grant.

The constabulary’s Corporate Communications Unit reported that approximately 4:00 pm Jahime and Grant were among a group of individuals playing football when a Nissan Tiida motor vehicle with several armed men drove up. The men opened fire on the group.

When the mayhem was over, residents found that four people had shot. They were taken to hospital where Jahime and Grant were pronounced dead, while the others were treated and released.

The cops say they collected several M16 and 9 millimetre spent shells at the scene

While the police did not provide a motive for the attack, the Observer was told that there is a gang feud in the area.

Yesterday, when the Observer visited, an eerie silence hung over Jahime’s school.

Physical education teacher and football coach Stanford Reid, who last saw the boy on Saturday after football training, said when he heard the news yesterday morning he was speechless.

“This morning a past student contacted me and said she heard someone died. I contacted the principal and she confirmed it, but she did not give a name. The guidance counsellor called later, assuming that I knew who died. I hung up the phone, dropped in my bed and cried,” Reid said.

“Mi cannot believe. He was a great footballer. He is my starting central link,” Reid said as he looked out to the school’s football field.

Reid said on Saturday afternoon he gave the boy a maths textbook. “He said to me, ‘Coach, mi want more book, ennuh, because mi waan pass mi exam.’ That was the last conversation I had with him,” Reid related.

With the Kingston and St Andrew junior high school football competition slated to begin next month, Reid noted that Jahime was anticipating the competition.

Jahime, he said, was on the squad that placed third last year.

Despite the anguish the team now has to grapple with, Reid said the students are hoping that they will win the competition in Jahime’s honour.

Like Reid, Jahime’s form teacher, Jillian Davis, admitted that the boy always wanted to be a great footballer.

Davis, who appeared sombre as she sat in the school office, recalled her last days with Jahime who was also a member of the track and field squad and the environment club.

“On Thursday we were collecting bottles for the environment club and he said to me, ‘Miss, all these bottles would end up in the gully and block the drainage and it is hurricane season’. On Friday we were just talking about being boys and girls, life, behaviour… being ambitious,” Davis continued, adding that Jahime was a jovial, fun-loving and very helpful student who would always comment on her appearance.

While Davis spoke with the Observer, Jahime’s mother, Marsha Finn, arrived on the school compound wearing a white T-shirt, black trousers, her son’s school tie around her neck, and his Reebook Classic school shoes.

The distraught mother of four told the Observer that she would miss her morning routine.

“Mi normally wake him up 5 o’clock before mi leave for work,” a sobbing Finn said, adding that she had not slept since the incident.

Finn, who works at the National Solid Waste Management Authority, said she had just arrived home from a day’s job in Linstead and went with a friend, on a motorbike, to get some food. When she returned, she said she saw a large crowd running towards her saying, “Jahime got shot.”

Finn said she jumped off the bike and ran into the lane, but it was too late. The police vehicle had already drove out with Jahime’s and Grant’s bodies to Kingston Public Hospital.

She said that on her arrival at the hospital she cried uncontrollably.

“I ran to the emergency room, the doctor told me to calm down. The nurse put me in a room and said, ‘Mother, you have to calm down.’ When the nurse put me to sit down she said, ‘The doctor not going to see you like this, so you have to calm down’,” Finn recalled, admitting that she was “carrying on”.

According to her, the doctor came shortly after and asked for her son’s name and age, which she told him.

Subsequently the doctor explained to her that her son died before getting to the hospital.

The mother said she then asked the doctor if he could allow her to see him, which he did.

“He took me to another room, where I saw him. When I saw Jahime I started to kiss him and rub him down,” the mother said, adding that thoughts of reprisal started floating around in her head.

Pointing out that she would never have imagined her youngest son on a bed with five gunshot wounds in his back and a huge hole in his neck, Finn asked what would have caused men to cut down a 13-year-old in such a manner.

“Mi feel cut up, mi feel depressed, mi feel down,” the mother said, adding that she had given her son $5,000 last Friday to purchase a pair of football boots after he told her that he made the school’s football squad.

Principal Patricia Findley recalled that football was Jahime’s passion and told the Observer that the students, some of whom were falling apart, as well as the staff had received counselling by a team from the Ministry of Education as well as counsellors from other schools.

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