By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
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.