Michael Nattoo – Staff Reporter
No matter how tightly they cling to the medals, the memories, and dreams of her becoming a doctor, the parents of Kela Bailey – Michael Bailey and Shena Grant, know one thing – their 9 year-old daughter will never return home to their Beverly Hills, Norwood, St. James residence. Nine year-old Kela Bailey was shot last Friday (June 30, 2017), and the void left in the tragedy-struck household is one that no parent should have to deal with.
“I want my baby back, I want my baby back,” were the only words the heartbroken Shena Grant could find when the Western Mirror visited the area. And despite the uncontrollable grief, Grant is now further burdened with remorse, after revealing that the 13 year-old youngster who shot her only daughter, was someone she has fed on a number of occasions. Now, Grant is left to ponder whether opting to be an unkind and uncaring neighbour would have been a better course of action for the life of her daughter.
“Dem likkle bwoy weh eat and drink here – is one a dem same one kill Kela. Mi cook give everybody,” the tearful Grant said. “If mi cook, mi feed him, and mi never know say him woulda turn the gun on my daughter. The little boy’s father has nothing good to say to me, and it hurts, yes it hurts so bad.”
The tragedy that befell the Bailey household began a day like any other – Kela was at home playing with two of her brothers and in a manner not unusual, they were joined by their neighbour’s 13-year-old son. While this gathering appeared normal, raising no alarm for Grant – who was preoccupied, it proved to be gravely different – their neighbour’s son had a gun.
At 3:30 pm, a loud explosion, which shattered the playful atmosphere, saw Grant running outside to witness a scene that has replayed a thousand times in her head since that fateful evening – the neighbour’s son darted from the yard, clutching what appeared to be a gun, her two sons sat in shock, and on the ground, in a pool of blood, was 9 year-old Kela, motionless.
Not much is remembered of the journey from that gruesome scene to the hospital, except that little Kela did not survive – she died while undergoing treatment.
FATHER IN DISBELIEF
Michael Bailey, Kela’s father, was still in disbelief when the Western Mirror reached out to him, lamenting that no more will he be able to come home and kiss his daughter on the forehead in the evenings. “I live for Kela,” the grieving father said, “mi nuh know how mi ago manage without her.” Bailey revealed that just three nights before she died, they were both sitting down in the couch watching TV, where Kela treated him by cutting his nails, on both feet and hands. Now, Bailey is lost without her, telling the Western Mirror that now, the future holds nothing good for him.
Young Kela’s life had an impact far beyond that which a 9 year-old should. She was an athlete at the Glendevon Primary, on the Principal’s Honour Roll, and had recently competed in Milo Western Primary Schools’ Athletics Championship. And when this newspaper visited the school, it wasn’t hard to see why the young life will be sorely missed. Teachers fainted, students wept openly and inconsolably, and Chairman of the School Board, Norman Brown, described the atmosphere as overwhelming, for students, teachers, and administrators, and despite the efforts of the Grief Counselling Unit from the Ministry of Education and Youth, with the help from churches in the community, solace was farfetched for those who knew Kela Bailey.
School principal, Susan Simms, was not spared the heartache, as she too has fond memories of Kela, who would be among the first to greet her with a hug as soon as she alighted from her car in the mornings. “Kela Bailey was a true gem – precious and rare. She was an extraordinary student, was pleasant, trustworthy, and was a brilliant little girl with a promising future,” Principal Simms shared, “she was also an athlete and a Brownie. The school will be in mourning for a long time,” she concluded.
For Norman Brown, Chairman of the school’s Board of Governors, Kela’s death is an unspeakable horror. “The entire school family has been traumatized and has been left practically useless… it is one of the most unfortunate acts I’ve come across and certainly, as chairman, it is one of the hardest I’ve had to deal with,” Brown offered. “Kela was one of our bright lights.”
The youngster’s tragedy hit closer to home for Kela’s teacher, Althea Burnett, who had a close relationship with the former student-athlete standout. “She was a pleasant child… a little angel. She would be the child I would send in my hand bag. She gave no trouble, and she was a class monitor. I watched her playing with some girls on Thursday, not knowing that that would have been the last time I would see her,” Barnett concluded.
This was the legacy of Kela Bailey, and though the 13 year-old responsible for her death was turned in, it will never be enough for those who knew of Kela Bailey – student, athlete, and future doctor. At least, she could have been.