Students and teachers at Merlene Ottey High School in Jamaica fought hard to hold back tears as they mourned the fatal stabbing of a promising student — 16-year-old Shanickey Brown.
“She was a motivator to her fellow schoolmates,” said Principal Joan Jackson Cope.
Brown, fondly called “Ribbon”, was reportedly killed by another 16-year-old girl at a birthday party in Johnson Town, Lucea, in the parish Sunday night.
Jackson Cope said word of the girl’s untimely death was first shared with her classmates, though some had already received the bad news from Sunday night.
She said she later met with the female football team, of which Brown was a member before withdrawing because of health reasons.
“…It was difficult to control the outburst. It was very mournful in the computer lab where we met with the footballers,” said the principal.
Jackson Cope told the Jamaica Observer that support from the Ministry of Education, the Victim Support Unit, and the Police Community, Safety and Security Branch helped teachers deal with the difficult situation.
School board chairman Leslie Moncrieffe, who was on hand to give support, said a prize-giving function has been postponed due to the tragedy.
Brown, who was described as a focused, helpful and respectful girl by teachers, was a grade 11 business student. She was scheduled to hand in her school-based assessment for her Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate examination.
“We had high expectations of her. She was one of those students we were looking to produce good grades at the end of her tenure,” said the principal.
Jackson Cope, meanwhile, praised Brown’s mother for the way she brought up her three children.
“[She was a] very polite child. I have no doubt that she is loved in the community... it plays out in the school setting and [she] is not one of the children that I have struggles with or issues with. As a matter of fact, none of the three children who come from that household have been in that position where they give us challenges. So I will give credit to the mother for the quality upbringing and the character that she sends to us,” said the principal.
Police reported that about 10:45 Sunday night both girls were at a party when an altercation developed. It was alleged that the accused then left the party and returned with a knife which she reportedly used to stab Brown.
Brown reportedly received three stab wounds to the body, while another girl was injured during the altercation. She was treated at hospital.
There were unconfirmed reports that the birthday party was being held for an adult male in the community. However, Deputy Superintendent of Police Ainsley McCarthy said the police heard a “number of things” but were not able to confirm for whom the party was being held, as no permission was given.
“…We did not give any permission for a party in the area. Nobody applied for any permission. We cannot say, because nobody is saying who put the event on,” said McCarthy.
In the meantime, McCarthy said the accused, who is from a “prominent high school in the parish”, is yet to be charged.