Several students and teachers at Frederick Smith Secondary School were left traumatised today, after 16-year-old Temario Holder of Checker Hall, St Lucy was stabbed to death by a fellow student, 15, who is now in Police custody.
The incident, which took place just around 1 p.m., brought a pall of gloom over the Trents, St James institution. Tears flowed uncontrollably among teachers and students as the realisation of the tragedy sunk in. The loud cries of the deceased’s loved ones added to the sombre mood at the school.
One reliable source told Barbados TODAY that the deceased’s mother Sabrina Holder was not “doing well at all” and was being closely monitored.
The school, which immediately went into lockdown mode, was dismissed early.
Several students were spotted at bus stops, crying and comforting each other. Some concerned parents rushed to the institution to collect their children as news of the incident started to make the rounds via traditional and social media.
One student who was in a state of shock, had to be assisted to a vehicle. Other students who related the incident to members of the media said that the fatal stabbing was the end result of an altercation.
“Them had a scuffle upstairs and two of them was quarreling and thing. So the boy went long and then the boy start kicking he about and thing. So the boy run along on second floor and then somebody hold he back and start stabbing he,” one student who said he witnessed the incident told Barbados TODAY.
That same student described the deceased as “a good boy”.
“He wasn’t any bad person. He would tell the teacher if somebody do bad or not. People know he. People [were] going through the gate crying. This got me feel bad. I ain’t even want to go school here no more,” the student said.
Another student related that several persons watched as a staff member made desperate attempts to save the young boy’s life. They recalled that the teacher broke down in tears after she realised that her efforts were unsuccessful.
“I see she asking for a plastic bag, I ain’t know why. Then I just see somebody flip he over and he eyes was shut,” the student said.
Government officials led by Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw gathered at the scene.
Social workers and psychologists from the Ministry provided counselling for the deceased’s family, friends and schoolmates who were struggling to cope with the loss. Retired principal Reverend Keith Griffith also showed up to offer support.
Minister Bradshaw held a meeting with teachers and the school’s management team, including principal Major Michael Boyce and deputy principal Clyde Collymore.
After the body was taken from the scene, Minister Bradshaw said that this was a difficult time not just for the school and staff, but particularly for the family. Bradshaw said she believed that the tragedy was a reflection of what was happening in society.
“A child obviously coming to school as a student had in his possession and is able to use a weapon to the detriment of a young man losing his life.
“I believe the reflection is on society, not just on parents who are perhaps sometimes not as vigilant in these times, in terms of checking to see what children are taking to school, but also this is a reflection of society at large. A school is a small environment, but it is also a reflection of what is happening in society,” Bradshaw said.
The Minister of Education also noted that the incident was an indication that there was need to ramp up additional resources at Frederick Smith and other school plants.
She also stressed that this was not the time for finger-pointing, but a condemnation of society that the young man lost his life in such circumstances.
“We can never see these things coming, but the reality is these are problems that are confronting this institution. It is certainly confronting other institutions.
“And this is really a call to the wider society to take stock of what is happening and to be able to get on board to be able to assist not just families but certainly to be able to support the institutions as well,” Bradshaw said.
The Minister announced that Frederick Smith would be closed on Monday to facilitate further counselling for teachers and students.
“Some of the teachers actually witnessed the incident. They were there after trying to resuscitate the young man and as you can imagine, it is going to be difficult for them to be able to come back into the classroom so soon after this incident has happened.
“So the Ministry is committed to ensuring that we provide the relevant support that is needed for the personnel here at the school to ensure that we can get school back to normalcy and as quickly as possible,” she said.
Late tonight, father of the deceased, Dane Miller, posted on his Facebook page that no parent looks forward to burying an offspring and he never thought he would have to do it.
“… As a male 41 years old the only other time in my life I felt this bad was when my father died and that was at the age of 17. It’s only a few hours ago but I can still hear the [wailing] of his mother trying with every breath to tell me Temario (our son) gone, unable to talk, someone had to take the phone and tell me what happened, ‘are you his father, there has been an incident at the school and can you get here now’, ‘yes I can I’m in town now. You don’t want to hear the cries of a crying mother it’s extremely painful and she was a super mom to our son and I am forever grateful to her,” he wrote.
Miller reminisced on congratulating his son on becoming a prefect while recently giving him his first driving lesson. “Look, dad, they just made me a prefect at school.” “Congrats son,” the distraught parent wrote, adding he would dwell with the good memories he shared with Temario during his “16 years of life”.
In a grisly reminder of what had occurred, Miller wrote that while he was returning home after the tragedy, he pulled to the side of the road when he heard a police siren approaching. It was a police vehicle escorting the Two Sons vehicle carrying the lifeless body of his son.
Holder’s death brings to 42 the number of murders for the year.