The mother of a nine-year-old boy, who was shot in Swan Street, the City, last Saturday, is appealing to the public to help her find the perpetrator who almost took her son’s life.
As police investigations continue into the incident, which has left the Westbury Primary School student recovering at home following surgery to remove a bullet that was lodged in his head, a distraught Asha Payne is seeking justice on behalf of her son Xavier Bertrand, who she said was so traumatized by the incident that he is now begging her not to take him back to Bridgetown ever again.
“I just want to appeal to the public, anybody who knows anything, to please just let the police know. Let them do their job so that these lawless people that we have on the streets doing a lot of stupidness can stop because an innocent child could have lost his life,” said an angry Payne.
“He is nine years old, he has not even seen life as yet and he could have dropped down dead right in Swan Street,” she said.
As Xavier sat beside her having dinner at their Clapham, St Michael home this evening, Payne said she was hopeful that “the perpetrator has a heart and tell himself, ‘an innocent child could have been killed by my hand’, and turn himself in [to police].
“We know that is not going to happen, but we pray that somebody knows what is going on,” she added.
While the identity of the shooter remains a mystery, Payne said she was grateful to the Royal Barbados Police Force for their investigations so far.
She also praised the staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) for the treatment meted out to her third born, who had to be hospitalized for two days following the incident.
Xavier, who has ambitions of becoming a jockey, was preparing to attend the Sandy Lane Gold Cup at the time.
Payne recalls that she had just left a boutique in the company of Xavier, his siblings and his father Augustus Bertrand.
The five had gone there in search a red shirt and pants for him to wear to the races.
“He was saying he is going to Gold Cup to back [Sir] David Seale, so he wants to wear red,” she said.
She said it was then she heard a “pax” sound and Xavier immediately put his hand on his head.
“I removed his hand from his head and I saw that his head had opened up and there was a silver metal lodged into the top of his head. We looked around to see if we saw anyone and there was no one.
“I then told [his] father, ‘I am not going to stand up here, come let me take my child to the hospital’. We went to the car park, got the car and made our way to FMH [private clinic] where they did an X-ray and it was revealed that there was a bullet at the top of his head,” she explained.
Payne said her son was then referred to the QEH where he received surgery just after 9 p.m.
Doctors have told the family they expect the injured boy would make a full recovery. However, the family has been told that the wound has to be monitored, given the possibility of infection.
Throughout the recent frightening episode, Payne said she has tried to remain strong for her son.
However, she admitted to crying when he was not around.
“Right now I am still in a mess because the doctors say if it [wound] gets infected he could [suffer] brain damage,” the mother said.
Looking at her son, who leaned on her for comfort awaiting his medication, she continued: “He is acting like the same child before he got the shot, but still, as a mother, I am scared and I don’t want that later on he take it on and it starts affecting him.”
Payne, who is a Christian, said while she was praying to God for continuous healing for her son, she hoped her appeal would be answered.
“We really don’t want this to happen to anybody else’s child. As a mother I went through it and I don’t wish this – not even for my greatest enemy – and that is the truth. It is hard and I don’t wish this for anybody,” she stessed.
When asked how he was feeling, a shy, but polite Xavier, who is to remain home for the remainder of the school term, said he was “okay”.