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Mother of shot teenager tells court of near miss incident

The mother of gun victim Jahrockia Smith-Hassell told a courtroom of threats against her family including the night a rooftop gunman fired a bullet between her and her eldest son.

Tynetta Smith wiped tears from her eyes as she described March 25, when Jahrockia was shot and injured outside her home.

While watching television with one of her grandchildren, Ms Smith said she heard five shots outside their door at about 11.45pm.

“I called my daughter and asked her where her brother was,” she told a Supreme Court jury, adding that she stopped her granddaughter from opening the front door.

Outside, Mr Smith-Hassell had been shot three times as he stood with a group of friends on Rambling Lane.

Ms Smith said she ran in search of her son to the home of a neighbour and his wife. Mr Smith-Hassell came in from the back and collapsed.

“They brought him to the front for me to embrace him, but I was too shaken,” she recalled.

Her son told her: “Momma, I’ve been shot.”

The man accused of attempted murder, Royunde Stevens Cyrus, denies the charge.

Under questioning from his lawyer, Shade Subair, Ms Smith recalled occupants of the house struggling to keep her son awake as they waited for the ambulance.

“He was saying ‘Don’t let them let me lay down’,” the court heard.

Her teenage son was rushed to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for surgery shortly after midnight.

Asked by Crown counsel Kirsty-Ann Kiellor if there had been threats of violence during her time at Rambling Lane, where Ms Smith moved after living on St Monica’s Road, the witness recalled being approached and intimidated late in 2010 by two men.

“They started throwing accusations at me,” she said, describing the tone as threatening and harsh, and directed at her eldest son, Tafari.

Asked how she had felt, she said: “I was angry. To be honest, I wanted to chop them.”

Around five or six months before the shooting, Ms Smith continued, she attended the Mid Atlantic Boat Club, on North Shore Road, Devonshire, with her son Tafari and her daughter. Mr Smith-Hassell was not present.

They were gathered by a window into the restaurant area of the club at about 9pm.

“My son asked me for something, and I stood up to pass it to him,” she said. “Someone fired a shot from the roof. It hit the ground between me and my son. You could see the sand just open up where it hit.”

The group scattered, she said, with her and her daughter ending up inside.

Asked if her son Tafari still resided in Bermuda, Ms Smith replied: “I forced him to I told him to go.” She said her eldest son left the Island a couple of weeks later.

During this week’s trial, Mr Smith-Hassell agreed with the suggestion that he was targeted by members of Parkside who wanted his brother Tafari dead.

He has told police, and the court, that he recognised Mr Cyrus as his shooter.

The defence has argued that the victim, believing Mr Cyrus to be a member of Parkside, is determined to make “one of the shooter’s group” pay for the attack.

The court also heard from doctors who treated Mr Smith-Hassell on the night he was shot.

Angela Marini described Mr Smith-Hassell as awake, but “distressed, anxious and in pain” upon arrival at the hospital’s emergency room.

She recalled no conversation on the shooter’s identity.

Surgeon Stephen Dore told the court that a bullet had passed through the teen’s abdomen, while another went through his right leg.

Dr Dore, who performed the surgery, described the abdominal shot as a life-threatening wound.

Acting Chief Inspector Stephen Cosham of the Bermuda Police Service described performing a video identification parade on April 7, in which Mr Smith-Hassell picked out Mr Cyrus as the man who shot him.

The case continues next week.

Royunde Cyrus (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published November 19, 2011 at 7:41 am (Updated November 19, 2011 at 7:40 am)

Mother of shot teenager tells court of near miss incident

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