Romario Lashley laid to rest after sorrowful service
The tears flowed freely on Wednesday as family and friends gathered at Mount Olive Church of America in Carrington Village, St Michael to bid farewell to Romario Lashley who was shot and killed by police on July 26.
The uplifting songs and fiery sermon delivered during the hour-long service sought to raise the spirits of the mourners at a time of sadness. Still, they wept; especially Lashley’s immediate family members, who could not hold back the tears.
Romario’s mother Maxine had cried when, through Barbados TODAY, she had appealed to the third of her four children to turn himself in to police after he went on the run on July 9.
The 21-year-old Downes Gap, Arthur Seat, St Thomas resident had been accused of shooting and wounding 35-year-old police officer Shane Newton of Foul Bay, St Philip.
Police later issued a bulletin seeking the public’s assistance in locating Romario, who was being sought in connection with a number of serious criminal matters, and who lawmen said at the time was considered armed
The mother wept again on the day the young man was killed, and today teardrops trickled down her face as she bent over the brown casket in which Lashley’s body lay, dressed in a black and blue suit.
The grieving mother was comforted by many as she sat in a wheelchair, which family members said she needed because of an aching foot. Sitting at the front of the church, Maxine tried to remain strong, especially for her youngest child, eight-year-old Rashauna, while her sons Kyle and Kareem stuck close to her. Lashley’s father Dennis Small was also visibly shaken.
Romario’s first schoolteacher Denise Grant spoke at the service, recalling that it was as recent as April 20 that she spoke with her former student, demanding that he turned his life around because he was walking the wrong road.
“Little boy, what are you doing?” she recalled asking him, as she promised to pray for him.
Grant said she was heartened when the young man’s mother told her just one week before Lashley went on the run that he was reading the Bible again and was trying to change his ways.
However, she said it was painful today to see him lying in a coffin, killed in such violent circumstances. And she advised the scores of young people attending the funeral to learn from his tragic end.
“It is a tragedy. Take it and turn your life around. Take a look at yourself. There are quite a number of y’all in here this afternoon that are my past pupils. God has given me the opportunity to speak to all of you this afternoon and to let you all know there is a different road and you can take it up from this afternoon.
“You saw Romario lying in the box and you are all wondering what happened. We will never understand, but this afternoon, turn your lives around. And when you turn it around, go the other direction,” Grant told the attentive congregation.
Pastor Hubert Kirton adopted a similar theme, advising the mourners that the funeral was an opportunity for them to take stock of their lives.
“So we must reconsider, ‘oh God, what are you trying to tell us out of this event?’ Death should not only be seen as a loss, my friend, but an opportunity to look back and to reassess the way that we have been living,” Kirton said in the sermon entitled, Time to Rewind.
The casket was reopened after the service for a short period to allow family and friends to take a final glimpse of Romario’s body before he was laid to rest at the St Thomas Parish Church.