KINGSTON –– The mother of the 13-year-old schoolgirl who was shot in the head when men, believed to be police, opened fire on an illegal taxi in downtown Kingston Thursday morning, said she was leaving everything in God’s hands after she and her co-workers prayed and sang outside Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) where her only child was said to be recovering after emergency surgery.
Ruby McKoy, a teacher at Duhaney Park Primary School, was surprisingly calm when she spoke with the Jamaica Observer.
However, she admitted that earlier Thursday she was not unruffled.
“I wasn’t like this this morning. When I heard that she was in an accident, my knees gave way, everything went, and I found a colleague and cried and cried,” McKoy said. “[But] when I rememberd that I had prayed this morning, and I had asked for coverage from accident, both seen and unseen, I said to myself, ‘Why should I take this on when I am leaving it in His hands?’
“So what you see right now is not my own strength.”
Her husband, Harry McKoy, however, was very emotional.
Appearing to be in daze and on the brink of tears he said: “This is something you wouldn’t mind if you wake up and it is a dream.”
He said he was at home when he received the unfortunate news, but said he was hoping for the best as he was told that, although there was swelling to his daughter’s brain, no tissue was damaged.
When asked to describe his daughter, a grade eight Convent of Mercy Academy (Alpha) student, he simply said, “Zoey is the world,” while noting that she is the president of block two at her school and will celebrate her 14th birthday Friday (July 1).
The tragic incident occurred at the corner of Mark Lane and North Street.
According to the driver of the taxi, sometime after 7 am he was transporting four students, three from Alpha and one from St George’s College, when men whom he said were dressed in blue denim and vests marked police, subjected him to what he termed “bad driving”.
The driver said he responded by hurling expletives at the men, which angered them.
As a result, the driver said after he drove off he heard gunshots and heard the schoolgirl screaming out that she had been shot.
The girl, who was the only passenger injured, was rushed to the hospital by the driver.
In the aftermath of the shooting, several taxi drivers parked their cars in protest and demonstrated by blocking roads and setting fire to tyres in the streets.
Fires were lit behind Central Police Station on East Street, as well as on Church, Duke and North streets
The roadblocks were later cleared by a team of cops from Central Police Station, while firemen from the York Park station extinguished the fires.
“The police are unprofessional; you can a fire rifle pon taxi with schoolchildren fi kill off people pickney?” asked one taxi driver who was among colleagues on Church Street in the vicinity of Ward Theatre where they had mounted a roadblock with pieces of wood, stones, and an old refrigerator. A fire was also lit at that location.
“A man use mouth and yu a go use gun; police cyaan continue to operate like that and shoot people as dem feel a mind,” said another man on the scene.
Amidst the protest, cops were dispatched from Central Police Station to restore normalcy to downtown Kingston and to prevent further unrest.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Linval Phoenix, who was on East Street, told the Observer that the police were working to restore order and that the shooting was being investigated.
Commissioner of Police Dr Carl Williams has also ordered senior investigators of the Criminal Investigation Branch and the Inspectorate of the constabulary to probe the circumstances which resulted in the shooting.
The commissioner, while expressing sympathy to the family of the injured student, issued an appeal to anyone who may have witnessed the incident to come forward and give the information to the police and the Independent Commission of Investigations, which is also investigating the shooting.