The killing of a 14-yr old female student by her classmate who shot her to death three days ago in their classroom on the campus of the Cyber-Ed school continues to fill conversations around Monrovia and perhaps Liberia.
This is because it is the very first time on record since the end of the civil war in 2003 has a student lost her life from gun violence, perpetrated by her own classmate. According to media reports, the shooter, 16 yr. old Oliver Turay, has been turned over the custody of his lawyers pending determinations on whether he can be criminally tried.
Not much has been heard from the parents save a statement attributed to the mother who reportedly told Police that the killer weapon, a magazine-fed 9mm pistol belonged to her deceased husband who she did not identify.
But research conducted by this newspaper has revealed that she and one Lovette Williams (deceased) were not legally married but had lived together for some time. However, sources disclosed that the mother had moved out of their shared home one year prior to Mr. Williams’ death in 2019.
A neighbor speaking on conditions of anonymity has told the Daily Observer that the shooter had behavioral problems stemming from his suspected use of hard drugs. A brother of the shooter, according to the neighbor is a known drug addict.
Further according to the neighbor, the shooter, 16-year-old Jovanus Oliver Turay had been expelled from two high schools in Monrovia for what he termed as bad behavior. Prior to his enrolment at this school, he was last reported to have attended the Levi C. Williams school, from where he was allegedly expelled for consistent bad behavior. But authorities at the school, when contacted, declined to comment.
But hard questions must be asked both to the Police and to the parents of the shooter. Since it has been suggested that the release of the shooter to the custody of his lawyers was based on age considerations, the parents of the shooter must be held for criminal negligence.
The mother, according to reports claims that the killer weapon belonged allegedly to her deceased husband.
Was she not aware, granted that indeed her story is true, that the weapon was being held illegally? Did she report the weapon in question to the Police, knowing that her deceased husband had left the weapon in her custody? To the best of publicly available information, she did not do that.
So the question is, did she keep the weapon in a safe place away from the reach of minors? Again, to the best of publicly available information, this was not the case.
Further to this, the public would like to know whether a 16-year-old is as incapable of making rational decisions as would a two-year-old child. And just why neither the shooter nor his mother is being detained by the Police for questioning, is an issue of concern.
Also, school authorities, trying as hard as ever to claim that the shooting to death of Precious Ireland by Oliver Turay was “accidental” should be answering some hard questions as well. But apparently this has not happened leaving the public to suspect that a bungled Police investigation may be in the works.
And the reasons why are obvious, according to a retired senior Police officer based on what he says is a chain of unsolved murders in recent times.
Many a time when such things like this happen, there is often a rush to judgment about the motives and intent of the perpetrator. And much too often very little questions are asked about the background of the individual as reflected in most media accounts of the shooting to death of little Precious Ireland by an individual almost her age.
Much too little has been said about the parenting of the shooter. In the wake of the shooting, it is now being revealed that the shooter may have had a troubled childhood.
On his Facebook page are posted pictures of him in poses suggestive of one with a gun aimed at someone or some object. Anyone who knew him closely according to sources knew of his craze for guns.
It must not be forgotten that thousands of Liberian youths are steeped in the gun culture by virtue of prolonged exposure to violence, drugs and guns during the Liberian civil war.
Thousands of youths today are, according to mental health experts, carrying a huge burden of war induced trauma and that problem, as critical as it is, according to them, is being treated with benign concern.
A long-time schoolteacher, speaking to this newspaper in the wake of the shooting incident, declared that if this matter is not handled properly, meaning that if the shooter is not treated firmly in keeping with the law, it would have the effect of scaring teachers away from the classroom because it could happen to anyone “for free”.
And this is why the Public does not seem to favor the release of the shooter to his lawyers. And it does not matter an inch whether the mother claims the killer weapon allegedly belonged to someone now deceased since two years ago. It does not provide her any excuse for being negligent.
“I am a former soldier,” a relative of the deceased declared, “and we are talking about a pistol here with a 12-round magazine, not a revolver which can easily misfire with a mistaken press on the trigger so, to shoot someone two times is no mistake”.
According to him no stone would be left unturned to ensure justice for his slain relative. Another family member, Maxwell Grigsby, has since declared that he wants and will seek justice for his niece. Mr. Grigsby, according to media reports, serves as current head of the National Small Arms and Ammunition Control Commission, commonly referred to as the Small Arms Commission.
Whatever the case, the public waits with bated breath to see whether this investigation or its outcome will parallel that of the investigations into the deaths of the LRA auditors where, till today, there is “no head, no tail”! We demand JUSTICE for Precious Ireland.