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Penwood student didn’t have to die
Police angered by school administrators’ failure to stop deadly fight
BY KARYL WALKER Editor — Crime/Court Desk [email protected]
Sunday, April 21, 2013

POLICE assigned to the St Andrew South Division say despite their efforts to keep the peace in high-risk schools, they are being hampered by the nonchalance of some administrators who have been falling down on their duties to maintain discipline and order.
The issue was brought to the fore two weeks ago when a student of Penwood High School in the often volatile Olympic Gardens community was stabbed to death by another student during a fight which, police say, could have been cut short if teachers and other school staff had been alert and responded in a timely manner.
HEWITT… what is most appalling to me is that the fight took place for several minutes and no one responded
The dead student, 16-year-old Nario Coleman, otherwise called ‘Two Face’ of a Balcombe Drive address, was killed in full view of other students, some of whom egged on the two boys to go at each other.
The Jamaica Observer viewed a video recording of the incident which lasted about six minutes.
In the video, Coleman and a 15-year-old boy, who is now in police custody, got into a fist fight in an upstairs classroom on April 11.
At first the fight seemed to be just another tussle between two adrenaline-filled youngsters with the 15-year-old murder suspect having the upper hand as he grabbed Coleman in a neck hold and had him at his mercy.
Coleman was defeated and gasping for breath as his stronger counterpart squeezed mercilessly and taunted him, saying, “You want me kill you, bwoy?”
After a few more precious seconds, the obviously stronger teenager released his captive who seemed greatly relieved.
However, Coleman made a deadly mistake when, after regaining his composure, he rushed to his knapsack and took out a pair of scissors which he used to stab the other student in his back.
He then retreated to a chair and sat breathing heavily.
However, the stab victim with the urging of fellow students — one of whom handed him a knife — walked back into the classroom and confronted Coleman.
Events then turned deadly as Coleman was collared and stabbed about six times. The wounds appeared to have been inflicted in his back, stomach, arm and chest.
All this time most of the students who were witnessing the deadly attack were egging the knife-wielding student on, saying “Dem man yah a murderer.”
Seconds later, Coleman was seen walking groggily towards the stairs in an apparent effort to get assistance. However, he collapsed after about 10 steps.
It was then that a female student started shouting to the rest of the teenage crowd, who seemed to be enjoying the spectacle, to lift the injured boy so he could get assistance. Her cries fell on deaf ears.
At no time during the video recording was any adult member of staff seen trying to quell what apparently started out as a minor scuffle between the two boys.
Head of the Division, Superintendent Delroy Hewitt, was outraged that no teacher or other member of staff sought to find out what was happening despite the loud commotion.
“What is most appalling to me is that the fight took place for several minutes and no one responded. If someone had responded his life would have been saved,” Hewitt told the Sunday Observer.
Hewitt was also peeved that the school authorities did not report the incident to the police, who, he said, were only notified by medical staff at the Kingston Public Hospital after Coleman was taken there and pronounced dead.
Hewitt said the police are aware that a school administrator asked a student who filmed the stabbing incident to send it to the administrator’s phone and then told the student to delete the video. “That is on record,” he said.
“What we want is for the schools to work with us so we can help them,” he added.
The constabulary is presently short on manpower and as such no School Resource Officer — cops who are assigned to keep students in line at schools with a history of student-on-student violence — was assigned to Penwood High at the time of the tragic incident.
School Resource Officers are assigned to the Community Safety and Security Branch of the constabulary and also search for weapons and other contraband, in addition to ensuring that there is no truancy, gambling or any other untoward activity taking place on school compounds.
Hewitt said in light of the recent event, a School Resource Officer would be assigned to Penwood High in short order.
He also bemoaned the fact that some schools in the division do not update their student records on a regular basis.
“When a student enters school at grade seven and gives an address and other particulars no checks are made to see if those particulars have changed, even when the student reaches grade 11. This is wrong, as addresses and other particulars may change,” he said.
Head of the Divisional Intelligence Unit at the St Andrew South Division, Detective Corporal Delroy Holmes, said the country needs to revamp the manner in which males are socialised.
“We have every special education and special programmes to assist females. There are none to aid males. Young males are an endangered species in today’s society,” Holmes said.
Hewitt said the problem of violence and untoward behaviour by students was not confined to Penwood High, but said there were constant behavioural problems at Pembroke Hall High, Edith Dalton James, and Norman Manley High schools as well.
He, however, had special praise for the Haile Selassie High School which, he said, despite being located in the troubled community of Tavares Gardens, also called ‘Payne Land’, was not considered by the police to be a high-risk school.
“We have no problems at all with that school. We might have problems with the community that surrounds it, but Haile Selassie is not seen as high-risk. I think it shows that the school is under good management,” he said.

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