Ascot High mourns slain schoolboy

February 11, 2020
Jahiem Palmer’s classmates listen to recordings of his voice.
Jahiem Palmer’s classmates listen to recordings of his voice.
Students from the Ascot High School mourn the loss of their peer, Jahiem Palmer, who was killed on Sunday.
Students from the Ascot High School mourn the loss of their peer, Jahiem Palmer, who was killed on Sunday.

Several of Jahiem Palmer's peers at Ascot High School in Portmore, St Catherine, stood at the gate in disbelief as if they were waiting to see the bubbly teenager hop out of a taxi with a sly grin on his face.

Jahiem, 15, was always putting smiles on their faces. When he was not cracking jokes, this life of the party was spitting out lyrics or showing off the latest dance moves. His family members and friends are now left with those memories after he was murdered in Portmore last Sunday.

Reports from the Portmore police are that about 6:55 p.m., Palmer was driving a motorcycle through a dirt track in Phoneix Park when he was pounced upon by unknown assailants who opened gunfire at him. The youngster died on the spot. His death follows the murder of another teenager, 17-year-old Jevaughn Smith, a student of Lennon High School, who was shot dead at his home on Juno Crescent in May Pen, Clarendon, on Saturday.

a hurting population

At Ascot yesterday, grief counsellors visited the school and found a hurting population. In Grade 10H, for example, Jahiem's class, a group of female students hugged each other and cried uncontrollably.

"I always tell Jahiem that he had my mind confused because this minute he would make me upset, and the next minute he would have me laughing like crazy," a shaken Cassandra Barham, Jahiem's social studies teacher, told THE STAR.

A promising student

"He was a very friendly child, and he was always deejaying and dancing. "He loved the performing arts, and he had this little dance that he was always doing that he taught me. He was really friendly, and he couldn't pass and you didn't notice him ... He was definitely the life of grade 10H," she said.

Similar sentiments were echoed by the school's principal, Stellavit Ingram, who stated that the youngster was a promising student.

"Jahiem was very jovial student. He was a good performing arts student and was very much involved in dance and music. He had a very good relationship with his teachers and peers, and his death is not something that we will ever come to terms with. He was a very promising young man and was involved in the Police Youth Club ... It is very difficult for the school at this time," he said.

Over on Phoneix Park, a team of police officers were seen examining the spot where young Jahiem took his final breath. A few metres away, his mother, Zangena Clarke, sat on a bench and was being comforted by another set of police officers and residents. She wore a face of desolation as she scrolled through her phone repeatedly, looking at videos of her son dancing a few nights ago.

"Mi did have him under little punishment, but him did do what him suppose to do, so yesterday (Sunday), him ask mi if him can go play football, and mi say yes, and mi nuh know why mi go tell him yes. Mi shouldn't go say yes. Mi shoulda always say no and make him stay in the house because him wouldn't come out," the mother said.

Like other residents, she stated that Jahiem was not the intended target of the gunmen. They stated that he was sent to retrieve a motorcycle nearby by a friend of the family, who was supposed to be the target of the gunmen's bullets.

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