Slain constable ‘graduates’
KINGSTON –– It was a bittersweet afternoon for Jacqueline Brown yesterday as she walked up to the podium at the National Indoor Sports Centre in Kingston to receive an Associate of Science degree in business administration diploma from the University College of the Caribbean (UCC) on behalf of her daughter Woman Constable Crystal Thomas.
Thomas, 24, was fatally shot while on her way home from work last Tuesday by hijackers of the Coaster bus on which she was a passenger on Spanish Town Road in Kingston.
“Mi feel proud, you see! Mi proud a mi baby, man,” Brown said of the younger of her two children.
She may have seemed brave, but Brown confessed she was a bag of nerves.
“Sometimes mi feel weak,” she said. “When mi did fi go up mi feel like mi did ago cry, mi haffi squeeze it back.”
As she walked up the aisle, Brown was greeted with a standing ovation and cheers of encouragement. She was escorted by Sergeant Raymond Wilson, head of the central executive of the Police Federation.
UCC president Dr Winston Adams presented her with the diploma, shortly before the moment of silence in Thomas’ honour was observed.
“I applaud her because, as a parent, she must have made a lot of sacrifices for her daughter,” Adams said.
“I had to encourage her to keep the faith and let her know that we share the grief with her and extend my condolence on behalf of the university,” the president continued.
Had Thomas been alive, she would have graduated with her cousin Amanda Walker, who received her Bachelor’s degree in business administration yesterday. The latter told the Jamaica Observer how proud she was of her cousin.
“She always get some excellent grades, and she would call me and say, ‘Mi cousin, mi get A inna dis or dat’,” Walker said. “Sometimes she study so hard she will say, ‘Mi nuh sleep last night’, or five o’clock inna di morning she just a go har bed,” a remorseful Walker stated.
“She is more than just a cousin; she’s my close friend, somebody I can talk to when I have any problems. She’s always there for me,” she continued.
Sergeant Wilson added that Constable Thomas’ colleagues described her as a polite, hardworking, sensitive, brave, and ambitious individual.
A similar tragedy befell the UCC community two years ago when a graduand was murdered weeks before her graduation.
“This is the second time it has happened actually.
“Two years ago a female was murdered by her child’s father two weeks before the graduation ceremony,” Adams said.
Police have reported that two suspects believed to have been linked to Thomas’ murder were apprehended between last Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning in a police operation in the Hunt’s Bay area in Kingston.
The funeral arrangements for Constable Thomas have not yet been finalized.