A St Catherine father could be in serious legal trouble after reportedly firing three shots through a door at a figure thought to be an intruder at his home, only to discover it was his 15-year-old son. The boy later died.
The deceased has been identified as Raheem Shaw, a fifth-form student at Wolmer’s Boys’ School in Kingston.
The police were told that the mother of the deceased woke up her husband about 3:13 a.m. and told him that someone was breaking into their Hellshire home in Portmore.
The father, who is a haulage contractor and licensed firearm holder, armed himself and reportedly fired three rounds through a translucent door on hearing someone attempting to open it.
After making a check, he discovered it was Raheem.
The injured teen was rushed to the Spanish Town Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A seasoned attorney-at-law, who did not want to be identified, told The Gleaner that the tragic incident highlights why there are rules regarding engagement.
“Discharging one’s firearm, one of the first things [is], you must identify the target, so that you don’t hit anything else other than the target. Examine the surroundings so you know what is behind your target,” he said.
The target, he added, is to be clearly identified to reduce the risk of friendly fire.
“That means an innocent party that you don’t intend to shoot. You don’t shoot unless you know what exactly your shot is going to strike, [and] you need to be sure that it is not anyone else beyond the target,” said the attorney.
Firing at a movement or in the direction of a sound without absolute certainty at what one is aiming is discouraged, he noted.
“Shooting at a shadow would be tantamount to a breach of safety rules ... . Use of force is also a guide to arms use and danger cannot be perceived, it must be real and that’s the lesson that everybody needs to learn,” said the experienced attorney, adding that the use of force must be proportional to the threat faced.
“The person don’t bring a toothpick to the fight and you use a gun to shoot him. So, if you do not see the target with a weapon, you must not shoot the target. Even if he came to rob your house or he came to rape your wife, you don’t shoot him, because he has no gun. You have a gun, you can say, ‘Please, don’t move. Don’t come closer’,” he said.
The tragedy left relatives and residents of Hellshire distraught.
Teams from the Child Protection and Family Services Agency and the police’s Community Safety and Security Branch were dispatched to offer support.
The Gleaner was informed that Raheem has older siblings living overseas.
His uncle, Andrew Shaw, however, expressed concerned for two young relatives, including his son, with whom Raheem was very close.
Shaw said that they grew up together and were not taking the news very well.
“We are still in a processing phase,” he said of the family, noting that they were bonding to handle the heart-breaking grief.
Shaw said that, since Wednesday was a schoolday, no one would have expected Raheem to be outside at that hour.
“What else could he be doing outside his house so early in the morning? He is not a bad child ... . Three of them grow up together – him, my son, my niece ... . We wouldn’t expect any one of them to be out. That would explain his father’s regard because that is a no-no,” he said, trying to make sense of the shocking incident. “His [room] doors were closed, his fan was on, so you would expect him to be in his room.”
Shaw said nobody knows where Raheem was coming from, but he made it past the front grille, which means he had a key.
“My biggest concern is his mother and father because they are not in a good place,” the grieving uncle said.
Charles Nusam, former president of the Hellshire Community Association, said he gathered that Raheem was a very quiet youngster.
He said the area has not been plagued with robberies.
“The only time we had a change in that is when UDC (Urban Development Corporation) was building a drain at the back. I think because they were constructing the scheme and they took down our back fence and people started using a shortcut to go to Johnson Hill through here,” Nusam said, noting that, at that point in 2016, there were a few hold-ups and break-ins.
Yesterday’s tragedy followed another similar incident in January when a St James man reportedly fatally shot his 26-year-old son, Steven ‘Short Boss’ Taylor, at their Rhyne Park Village home about 4:30 one morning. The father reportedly saw a shadow and believed it was an intruder.