Less than a month after he turned 18, Jeremy John was shot dead near his mother’s home in Penal on Saturday night.
Police said the teenager lived at Pleasantville Avenue in San Fernando with his father Jerome John but while on his way to visit his uncle Martin Morris at Sunrees Road, gunmen pulled up and opened fire.
Morris, 52, told police he was watching television at about 7.40 pm when he heard the gunshots and took cover. After the gunfire ceased a neighbour told him his nephew had been killed. Police said John was struck six times by the bullets.
Speaking to Guardian Media, his mother Nicole Morris said he worked as a labourer with the URP in San Fernando and had no run-ins with the law. During his childhood, he learnt to walk on stilts with Junior Bisnath’s Kaisokah School of Arts.
Sobbing uncontrollably, Morris blamed herself for John’s death.
“It’s my fault. I called him to come home. I wanted to see him. If he didn’t come home in Penal, he would not have got shot,” she sobbed.
She explained that on March 10, John celebrated his 18th birthday and as a gift, she bought a house for him.
“I wanted him to come and live close to me. He was my firstborn and I loved him. I don’t know how I will function without him,” she sobbed.
She explained that after John collected his first salary he bought a pair of shoes and gave her $40 to buy snacks for his siblings.
She also said she was puzzled about who wanted him dead.
“Why they didn’t send him home to his mother. Why they had to go and kill him?” she cried.
Grandmother Alice Joseph had this message for his killers.
“God will deal with all yuh. Jah will deal with this,” she cried.
Grandfather Drayston Pierre said he also did not know why anyone would want to kill the teenager.
“He had no enemies as far as I know. He lived right here. Only last year he moved to his father’s house,” he said. Pierre said there were too many idle youths on the streets.
“Long ago when I was younger, there were many trade schools where youths could pick up training in agriculture, mechanics, tailoring, electricals, or plumbing,” he recalled.
“We never would see a youth man as a vagrant on the street. That was because there were programmes that young people could engage in. It was not difficult to find a skill because there were trade schools and craft courses to do,” Pierre added.
He called on the government to revitalise these trade schools and utilise community centres.
“We should encourage such skills trading to continue. This is the only way to save the youth,” he said.
Lisa Drayton, founder of Charlo Village Nex Generation Talent Group, said if youths had access to programmes to hone their talents, they would be less inclined to get involved in nefarious acts.
Police said they have no motive for John’s murder. Six spent shells fired from a 9mm semi-automatic pistol were recovered from the scene of the crime.
Sgt Jones, Cpl Bridgemohan and PC Jagessar of Homicide Bureau visited the scene and District Medical Officer Dr Maharaj ordered the body removed to the Forensic Science Centre where an autopsy will be done on Monday.
Anyone with information on the murder can contact Crime Stoppers at 800-TIPS.