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‘We Warned Them Our Son Would Die’

Wellington Smith, father of Anthony Smith – who was murdered on Tuesday night, said ‘the system’ set his son up to fail.
Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff

Wellington Smith, father of Anthony Smith – who was murdered on Tuesday night, said ‘the system’ set his son up to fail. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff

By SANCHESKA DORSETT

Tribune Staff Reporter

sdorsett@tribunemedia.net

THE FATHER of the 15-year-old boy gunned down on Prison Lane Tuesday night, said yesterday if the Ministry of Education had listened to his “constant pleas”  to remove his son from a “dangerous environment”, his only child would still be alive today.

In an interview with The Tribune, Wellington Smith, 55, tearfully recalled kneeling over his son, Anthony Smith’s bullet-riddled body for almost 30 minutes before the ambulance “finally arrived’, despite their home being less than five minutes away from the Princess Margaret Hospital.

According to police, shortly after 8pm Anthony was standing in front of a home on Greenwick Street off Prison Lane when a man in a dark coloured Honda pulled up and shot him before speeding off.

The teenager was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival at hospital.

Mr Smith said he believes “Tony” was targeted because of the many fights he got into at school, stemming from a “gang war” between boys from Mason’s Addition and Kemp Road. He admitted Anthony was “not perfect”, but said “the system” set his son up to fail, when the Ministry of Education sent him to a school in a neighborhood with rivals.

The distraught father said he knew the minute his son enrolled in C I Gibson Senior High School he would most likely die. Because of this, Mr Smith said Anthony was intentionally pulled out of school after only attending for three days since September.

He said the “last straw” was a few days after school opened, when Anthony and a group of other boys “were ganged on the school’s campus.”

“A friend of mine asked him (Anthony) to go to the shop and when he left we heard some gunshots. I didn’t know it was him but when I called out his name and asked where he was and that’s when my friend said ‘You remember I sent Tony around the corner to the shop’ and so we ran there and my cousin met me and told me that my son was shot,” Mr Smith said.

“When I reach there he was on the ground and he got shot in his eye, he had a few (bullets) in his back and one in his leg and one or two in his stomach. The gunman ran away after he shot him the first three times but then he came back and shot him three more times.

“My son was targeted.This has to do with school problem. He got into problems at school because he never backed down. He was a nice kid, but he never backed down and he had a lot of issues with other boys in school. He been in a lot of different incidents in school starting from Donald Davis and after that he went to C I Gibson.”

He continued: “His mother and I went to the education place and we told them we did not want him to go to C I Gibson because he has had problems in D W Davis with fellas from Kemp Road and C I Gibson is close to Kemp Road, but they turned us down, they said he had to go there. That’s what they told us, the people from the Ministry of Education. So my boy’s mother said ‘So you sending my son to die’. I knew something would happen to him.

“I don’t understand, we went to them as parents trying to save my son, trying to send him to another government school in this area, so he won’t be fighting every day and hook up with bad things and you are telling me there is nothing you can do? This feud has been going on for years and these boys are fighting every day to protect themselves.

“The other day he had an incident at school and the police were called, my son said the guys tried to gang him.This was about five weeks ago and he hasn’t been to school since. We were trying to get into into C C Sweeting but the people from the ministry said no and then we tried to get him in C R Walker and they said no.

“They put him somewhere where the children are warring and I don’t think that’s right. We told them, if they sent my son to C I Gibson they will fight him and his first three days in school he was in a big fight. He should have never been to C I Gibson. I mean I feel like God runs everything and destiny is destiny, but I don’t understand.”

Mr Smith also said he believes if the ambulance had arrived earlier Anthony “would have had a fighting chance.”

“My cousin and his brother got lock up because we were trying to carry him to the hospital because the ambulance took more than 20 minutes to come,” he said.

“The hospital right there and we got tired of waiting on the ambulance because he was still breathing and when we went to try lift him a big fight started between the police and my cousin and then they lock them up, but I mean if the hospital right there and they taking 20 minutes to respond why can’t we carry him?

Mr Smith said: “If a police officer gets shot, they will put him in the police car and carry him. The ambulance was taking so long and he was on the ground with six bullets in him and they say ‘don’t touch him’ and the hospital right there, why they couldn’t put him in the police car and carry him? Give him a chance to live. How you could wait on the ambulance and it taking long? He might have made it.”

Mr Smith has this message for the Ministry of Education.

“When you see this, remember it was us we came to you and begged you to remove my son from this situation. We begged you not to send him to that school. I do not know what kind of system you are running,” he said.

“My son said ‘Daddy, I don’t mind going to school you know, I go to school to learn, I just don’t want to fight every day, I am tired of fighting’.”

Police have no suspects in custody.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 911 or 919, the Central Detective Unit at 502-9991 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 328-TIPS.

Investigations continue. 

Comments

John 1 month ago

This confirms that there needs to be more intervention at the junior and high school levels. There needs to be more communication and cooperation between parents, the school administrators and the police. This is just one in many who lost his life because he was being bullied and harassed by gangs. And once they target a young boy their assault is brutal and relentless. Sometimes the boys see the only way out as joining the gang or resisting and getting killed, just like how this young boy lost his life. The number of young boys who had to leave school or that are being forced to join gangs is not small. There are many who have quit school because they were being beat up and pressured while in school or after school was let out. Parents can confirm they had sons come home from school without shoes (clarks) belts and with stories of having their lunch money taken daily. The school boys may be doing the harassing in school but they have the support of older gang members on the outside. And once the 'target' in school does not cooperate they are reported to the older gang members and some will end up like this young man. So the police may need to put task forces in the schools to uncover the gang members and either weed them out or deal with them accordingly. Then trace the gangs back to the leaders andput them away, else they will continue to kill the young men.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month ago

"My son said ‘Daddy, I don’t mind going to school you know, I go to school to learn, I just don’t want to fight every day, I am tired of fighting"

I'm convinced some of these boys want out. But if you have to literally fight for your life everyday, on the way to school, in school, on the way home and at home, how do you get out? They need a solution that's outside of this jungle.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month ago

"hospital right there and we got tired of waiting on the ambulance because he was still breathing and when we went to try lift him a big fight started between the police and my cousin and then they lock them up, but I mean if the hospital right there and they taking 20 minutes to respond why can’t we carry him?"

That shouldn't happen. The police should know that loved ones may become unreasonable at times like these. Put them in the squad car or something but there's no need to place them in jail when it's clear they're fighting (figuratively) to save their relatives life.

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DDK 1 month ago

So very sad and so very sick............

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licks2 1 month ago

This case shows a huge problem in MOE. . .what a shame!

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zephyr 1 month ago

What if the victim was murdered by someone in his area or an affiliate?

If found to be the case, what do we say then?

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banker 1 month ago

Why is it the MOE's fault if the kid is in a gang and goes to school near gang rivals? What ever happened to personal responsibility -- each person is responsible for their own behaviour? The euphemism "my son wasn't perfect" speaks volumes. What do you have to do, to goad someone to pump your body full of bullets? If this is the way that 15 year olds settle scores, then we are finished as a civilised country. It is a war zone out there.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month ago

It's not MOE's fault. The boy made a decision to join a gang and there were consequences to that decision. From the father's words I get the impression he wanted out but couldn't get out. He had to be violent to stay alive.

Would be good if we had a boarding school for these boys. Like a Google campus. Someplace where their minds are 100% occupied with big things, space, fast cars, computers, robotics, they're taught etiquette, taking care of animals, taught to dream. Could fights break out at that school, sure, plan for it and prevent it.

My theory is once they see how big the world is, how small the things are that they're fighting over, they're given their basic needs, food, clothing and shelter, an opportunity for a future with good education, etc, the conflicts will be reduced drastically.

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sheeprunner12 1 month ago

This boy is 15 ......... He has a daddy who seems to be active in his life ...... and he still could not beak the vicious cycle of gangs and school violence ........ MOE should not be blamed for this, although it is one of the social partners ...... Did the parents, principals, guidance counselors, pastors, police etc. have a full and honest understanding of this boy's troubles???????

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ashley14 1 month ago

If the gangs single you out, they'll get you. We have police at all schools now and trouble is kicked out.

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DEDDIE 1 month ago

I usually threaten my children with been send to a government school if they under-perform. That's no longer a viable threat.

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John 1 month ago

The police have data that indicate that at least 42% of murders are gang related. Another 20% of so of killings stem from gang related murders: retaliation killings, drug turf war killing, etc., Yet very little is being done to attack and stamp out these gangs. Now apparently the gangs are becoming more aggressive and are targeting and attacking "softer targets." they are attacking school boys as well as friends and family members of gang members, mostly in retaliation shootings. So eliminating the gangs can reduce murder by more than 50%. In Indonesia little kids, boys and girls go hunting for snakes armed only with sticks and sometimes maybe a grub hoe and a machete. The intent is to bring the snakes back alive. But the young children are taught to concentrate on the head. Capture the head and hold on to it. And no matter how big the snake is or whatever else it does you have it captured as long as you continue to hold on to the snake's head. No matter how big the snake, find its head and keep a firm hold on it. And these little children return with snakes two and three times as long as they are, without getting any injuries to themselves. And that is the approach this country needs to take towards gangs. Find the leaders and cut the heads off, by whatever means necessary. Everyone in the country knows who at least one gang leader is. So the police must concentrate specifically on them. Arrest them for even the slightest infraction . As fast as they come out of jail send them back. Make it impossible for them to operate. Make them the despised ones in the community, to the point that they are scorned or rejected. Then watch the gangs fall off and the murders decrease to near nil.

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ashley14 1 month ago

With commitment to change this trend could change, it can happen. It wouldn't be easy. One thing that bothers me is this father is 55, this is a man that has had a hard life. You can tell by his eyes. This is really sad, and I think unnecessary. The Bahamas could be anything that you guys wanted it to be, but corruption has put the Islands in hardship. The crime and the quality of lives could be so different, but this is how government controls us. If you have no money, what can you do? I suspect that our government did this about 10 years ago when our economy hit rock bottom and tons of people loss their homes and money. The government gave tons of people mortgages they could not afford. They knew what they were doing. Then when the economy fell everyone loss their savings in stocks and 401K's. Americans had become too successful, too many people had money. They wiped that out over night. One day you might of had 200,000 in your stocks or retirement savings and overnight it was wiped out. People loss everything and I think it was strategically created to control us.

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John 1 month ago

The TRIBUNE'S Headline this morning is a national disgrace! Like pouring more fuel on a fire that is already dangerously out-of-control!

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sheeprunner12 1 month ago

Well ........... someone has to address it and not by more hot air from an out-of-touch Minister of Education ....... Except he intends to re-open YEAST.

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