St Lucy district shattered by news of apparent suicide
Twelve-year-old Shamar Weekes had big dreams of becoming a lawyer someday.
However, following his untimely passing last evening, he will never have the opportunity to represent anyone, much less himself in court.
Ironically, many residents in Shamar’s sleepy rural district, known as Fryers Well, Checker Hall, St Lucy, believe that his death could have been avoided, even though most of them never felt he was capable of taking his own life.
Last night, as his lifeless body was being taken down by police from the roof of a galvanized structure in the backyard of his home, the grim reality of his death suddenly hit home.
Aunty Cordelle, as Shamar used to refer to the woman, who lives up the hill, was simply inconsolable.
“Oh Lord! It hurts, it hurts, it hurts . . . . If I knew that little boy would do that, I would keep him down by me. Oh dear,” Cordelle Greaves, who though not a blood relative, said she felt as if she had lost a son of her own.
“I am going to miss Shamar. He will not call me anymore auntie . . . my boy Shamar gone. I can’t sleep, I can’t sleep at all,” she told Barbados TODAY, immediately after receiving news of his death while at church last night.
As the boy’s mom spoke privately to detectives behind closed doors, loud murmurs could be heard on the outside about what took place on a daily basis within the four walls of his home, which is located at the back of a two-storey apartment complex.
Most were of the view that Shamar was mistreated, and that he was a victim of physical and other abuse. Moreover, it was widely felt in the neighbourhood that the first-form student often went unfed, and was in dire need of help.
This chorus grew louder today as a team from Barbados TODAY visited the area for a second time in the aftermath of his death but mother Julieanne Weekes was dismissive of all the talk surrounding her son’s passing.
When our team visited her home this morning, she bluntly refused our request for a face-to-face interview.
The mother of the deceased boy, however, complained to us that she had been bombarded with calls all day, when all she wanted to do was to lie down and get some sleep.
“People could say all the negative things they want to say. I don’t care,” she said, as she spoke to Barbados TODAY from behind her door.
She further insisted in the wake of her son’s death, that “I know the story, people don’t know the story”. As the team was leaving, a police vehicle was pulling in but the reception they got was no different to that given to members of the media.
The family’s former landlord Valarie Husbands received the “heartbreaking” news all the way in the United States.
“My mum called me and told me that my little boy Shamar died . . . and it made me feel very bad,” she said in a telephone interview with Barbados TODAY.
Based on what she witnessed while the family rented her Ellis Road, Checker Hall, St Lucy apartment, she was led to appeal to Shamar’s mother, “let me keep the little boy?”
“I told Julieanne to give me the boy and let me keep the boy for her, and she got mad with me and people told her don’t give me the boy . . . and the little boy tell me, ‘Valarie, take me’.” That request was made four years ago when Shamar was a student of the Half Moon Fort Primary.
Shortly after the family moved and she lost touch with the “nice little boy”.
“I want to know why a 12-year-old boy could hang himself like that in a yard. I liked the little boy a lot, if Julieanne had given me the child, probably the little boy would be living today. It makes me feel real bad because for the whole day I didn’t even go anywhere. Every minute he keeps coming into my memory and I say, ‘Lord, Julieanne could have given me this little boy’,” she lamented.
On the day of his death, Shamar stopped by Maria Leacock’s house after school, as was customary, to say hello to “Aunty Maria” before heading over to her Uncle John, who lives nearby, to ask him for money to buy something to eat.
She said the elderly man informed the child that he had neither money nor gas to cook a meal.
It was then that Shamar left for Leacock’s mother’s home.
Shamar was last seen alive at 7 p.m. hanging out with a friend in Sutherland Hill.
Sitting outside on a bench that evening, Leacock, who lives just behind Shamar’s home, said she overheard a loud argument at his home.
“After that, my son come and tell me that the little boy just dead. I say: ‘how you mean the little boy just dead and he just pass here?’” she said.
Today, residents also apportioned blame on the authorities, including members of the Child Care Board and police, who they said should have been aware of the boy’s circumstances, but never came to his rescue.
However, Shamar’s closest friends in the area Keshawn Griffith, Rashaad Husbands and Azikiwe Pierre, with whom he used to roam the district, were too distraught to attribute blame. Instead they recalled the good times when their now deceased friend had taught them how to make and fly kites.
“He say that he want to be a lawyer and then I said that I want to be a doctor,” little Azikiwe declared.
Also struggling to come to grips with his death was teenage friend Shakitta Husbands, who said Shamar was like her little brother.
“You don’t know how it hurting me. Shamar was always laughing. If he didn’t have, he would ask peacefully and there ain’t nothing wrong with asking because everybody don’t always got. And even though his living conditions appeared to be quite difficult, he was extremely courteous, well behaved and respectful.”
Husbands also described him as “good looking”, while noting that he loved to joke around.
She said he also took care of his seven-year-old brother, before and after school.
Elderly resident Anita James also spoke glowingly of the child she took to a Mother’s Day picnic at Silver Sands, Christ Church just last Sunday.
“Afterwards he came to me and told me, ‘Miss James, I thank you very much for what you have done for me today’,” she said, while wiping back tears.
“And when we came home, he came and asked me if I brought back anything to eat and I give him sandwiches and cake,” added James.
She explained that she first reached out to offer help to Shamar after she saw him picking green lemons from a tree in front of her house and eating them.
“I wanted to know why he eating these green lemons. . .,” James said.
A woman, who lives in the same apartment complex as Shamar’s family, admitted that she did not speak to the boy’s mother, but reported that she often heard screams coming from the neighbouring apartment.
When Barbados TODAY visited Coleridge & Parry the atmosphere was equally as sombre as that in Checker Hall. School authorities were not prepared to issue a statement on the tragedy but the gloom was showing on the faces of teachers and students who were subsequently offered counselling.