‘Good son’ did not deserve to be ‘gunned down in his prime’
Footballer, 22, becomes Island’s fifth gun victim of the year
Bermuda’s latest murder victim Jason Smith was a “good son” whose smile would light up a room, according to his mother.
Jacqueline Smith said the 22-year-old Regiment lance corporal, who was shot dead in what is believed to be a case of mistaken identity near the junction of Overview Hill and North Shore Road in the early hours of yesterday, didn’t deserve to be “gunned down in his prime”.
But she told The Royal Gazette she took comfort from the fact that he had given his heart to the Lord a year ago at the First Church of God in Pembroke and “died in Jesus Christ”.
“I am not interested in who is the person who has taken my son’s life,” said Mrs Smith. “It’s not for me to want to go and get this person. I hear some people say ‘have they got him yet?’
“I don’t care if they get him or not. That’s not my battle. My battle is to stay prayed up. I need to stay prayed up because that’s where I find my peace in the middle of turmoil.”
Police say Saltus Grammar School graduate Mr Smith, the Island’s fifth murder victim of 2011, may not have been the intended target of the shooter.
He suffered at least two gunshot wounds, according to Assistant Police Commissioner David Mirfield, who described the killing as “appalling, abhorrent, terrifying”.
Politicians also denounced those to blame, with National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief postponing an official trip overseas to visit the Regiment in North Carolina with the Governor.
The shooting took place in Mr Perinchief’s Pembroke Central constituency and he said it was “tragic and senseless” (see separate story).
The victim who lived with his parents in Warwick, recently got his taxi licence and drove his family’s taxi for a living. He also worked each year delivering Bermuda Yellow Pages and had studied computing at Seneca College and St Mary’s University in Canada.
He was a striker for PHC football club and his murder comes just a month after fellow footballer Randy Robinson, 22, was gunned down on Border Lane, Devonshire.
Before yesterday’s murder, the most recent gun death had been the shooting of David Clarke, 26, at the junction of North Shore Road and Bandroom Lane in Pembroke on April 17.
PHC coach Kyle Lightbourne said it was terrible to wake up to such tragic news, adding that all the players and the PHC family sent their condolences to Mr Smith’s loved ones.
“It’s such a devastating thing to happen,” he said. “I remember just the other day with Randy. Both of those guys I have coached. It’s scary.”
He described Mr Smith as a down-to-earth young man who was planning to go back to school. “It’s such a surprise to everyone in and around our community. Everyone in the community is devastated by this.
“Jason was a much liked guy. He was brought up on the PHC and for this to happen it’s very disturbing. It’s always: who is going to be next?”
Saltus Graduate Year head Jon Beard said he knew Mr Smith very well, having coached him at football for four years.
“I just can’t believe it,” he said. “When I heard it this morning, it was such a shock.
“He was always friendly. From a football point of view, you couldn’t have had a better player to coach. And from just having somebody around, he always had a great sense of humour.”
Mr Beard added: “I saw him Thursday or Friday drive by with his parents and he put his head out of the window and gave me a big wave and hello. It made me laugh. This terrible nonsense has got to stop. It’s just awful.”
Major Warren Furbert, the Regiment’s second-in-command, said Mr Smith was in the army’s training company and was an instructor at this year’s Recruit Camp.
He said the commanding officer and soldiers were saddened to hear of his passing and the family had been offered assistance with the funeral.
The soldiers at Camp Lejeune, NC, on their annual overseas training camp, were due to observe a minute’s silence in remembrance of Mr Smith last night.
Mrs Smith said her son was not involved in anything to do with gangs and was a “good kid and a good son” who enjoyed people and would yell out a friendly greeting to anyone he knew in the street.
“When you know you have got a gang member or an unruly child or that sort of thing and they get shot down, that’s bad enough and that hurts enough,” she said.
“But when you get a child that’s been shot down, a good child, a good Christian boy, who doesn’t harm anybody else, it’s really sad. It’s really too much.”
She said of her son: “He spoke to everything, everybody. Jason was one of those that would go out in the yard and see a lizard in the tree and say ‘hey, bye (boy)!’. He spoke to everything that moved.
“He was really outgoing, had a good personality, I mean just bubbly all the time, always thought life was good. He loved sports.”
The grief-stricken mother last saw her son as he headed off for a Saturday night out with friends and she warned him to take care on the roads.
His plan was to go to town, then to a friend’s to pick up a car and, later, to Ice Queen for some food. “That’s what they always did. It didn’t happen that way. He never got to Ice Queen.”
Mr Mirfield said police got a call to say someone had been shot at 3.50am.
“We attended with paramedics and a young man was taken to hospital,” he said, adding that the victim died shortly after arrival at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
“Our thoughts, our hearts go out to the victim’s family. This is once again an abhorrent and terrible incident that has taken place.
“This is the fifth fatal shooting this year and clearly a situation that the police are taking extremely seriously as we continue our investigations into this incident as well as the other murders.”
He told this newspaper: “One of the theories is that it was mistaken identity. As far as the offenders are concerned, we have got no details.”
Mr Smith also leaves behind father Michael, sister Kristina, brother Anthony, nieces Kaitlyn, Ashley and Samantha and nephew Raquon.
Last night police issued an appeal for help in tracking down Mr Smith’s killer. They also said they were interested in speaking with anyone that may have seen a black male about 5ft 4in, of stocky build and wearing a black hooded top particularly in the area of Overview Hill, Pembroke and surrounding neighbourhood, or anyone that knows anything related to the shooting to contact detectives at the Serious Crime Unit on 295-0011, or the confidential Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-8477 (TIPS).
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