- When the charred bodies of 8-year-old Javinci Palmer and one-year-old Tyler McLeod were recovered from the ashes of their one-bedroom home last Friday night, angry residents in the community of Ban Lane, Paradise, Norwood, St. James, all pointed their fingers at the boys’ mother, Shantel Brown, who is now in police custody.
Brown, 28, was taken into police custody on suspicion of child negligence.
According to reports, members of the St. James Sector One Operational Support Team, who were on patrol in the area, observed Brown along a roadway in her community with a female friend, smoking and drinking, among other things.
She was instructed by the unit to return to her place of abode – an order she initially complied with.
Moments later, after the police unit left the area, Brown made her way back onto the roadway, leaving her four children, which included Palmer and McLeod, at home unattended again.
Not long after, however, tragedy struck, and a fire was soon observed by residents ravaging the one-bedroom board dwelling. Residents who were quick to react to the blaze were rendered powerless, however, as the fire spread rapidly across the structure, trapping the children inside, and keeping would-be rescuers out.
Attempts to douse the flames using water also proved futile.
As residents watched helplessly, the burden of their horrors was lightened when one of the four children, a six-year-old girl identified as ‘Princess’, dashed out of the blaze, clutching her sister, a one-year-old girl – half of twin siblings, in her arms. McLeod and Palmer, however, were not so lucky.
Firefighters, who related that they received the call about the blaze around 11:55 p.m., responded with two units from the Freeport Station. Upon their arrival, firefighters observed that the house was completely engulfed in flames, while residents relayed that children were trapped in the fire.
An operation was rapidly undertaken, enabling the firefighters to quickly bring the raging inferno under control before it could spread to nearby dwellings in the vicinity.
Following cooling down operations, the bodies of the children were observed among the rubble left in the wake of the blaze.
HOW THE BLAZE STARTED
According to one resident who spoke to this newsroom, the fire is likely to have started with little Javinci, who was playing with a lit candle, which was used to provide lighting as there was no electricity at the dwelling. The resident, who explained that ‘Princess’ had shared the details with him, explained that Javinci was playing with the candle and had accidently extinguished the flames.
In an attempt to re-ignite the candle, he allegedly used a lighter to set alight a piece of paper, which he used to light the candle. He then discarded the ignited piece of paper, according to the resident, without first outing the flames.
The blaze is believed to have started then.
NOT THE FIRST TIME
Reports suggest that Friday night was not the first incidence of Brown leaving her children at home unattended. One resident shared, “She always a do road and a lef’ di pickney dem… a nuh di first time.” Other residents added their voices to those claims, with a number of them expressing that on a number of occasions, they have confronted Brown about leaving her children alone at home.
-Michael Nattoo – Staff Reporter