ROSE HEIGHTS, St James — AS 29-year-old Christopher ‘Puppiness’ Sammons recalls April 29, the day gunmen shot up his car, killing his five-year-old daughter, it’s obvious from the steely look on his face and the restless pawing of the ground with his feet, that a war is going on inside him.
But his words bespeak the peace that he has been mooting since becoming a member of the Covenant of Peace established in Rose Heights last year by Pastor Knollis King Snr to stem the profuse blood-letting and loss of lives resulting from the violence between warring factions in the community.
“Me know the man who shoot me and him know me. Two things me would love to ask him, how him feel fe know say him kill me daughter, and what the reason he has to shoot me? Me would definitely want to know the reason why him shoot me because me and this man don’t have nothing. Over the past months is just peace me say, so me would want to know if is the peace why him shoot me?”
No one knows how to answer Sammons’ agonised questions which hang heavy in the air as his voice cracks and he begins to hyperventilate.
And it is hard to witness his pain as he struggles to convey the message that he is not seeking any form of vengeance against the men who also injured his nine-year-old daughter, Krishelle, during the riot along Felicity Road, which was reportedly triggered by the police shooting, the previous day of two men in the tough Glendevon community.
“If I should consider reprisal somebody is going to feel what I am feeling; somebody is going to feel what me daughter’s mother feel. No, we are not on those levels right now, no sah, he said noting that he views the incident as a test of faith, which he intends to pass.
According to Sammons, who was also injured in the attack, he was driving his daughters from their home in Rose Heights to school when he came upon the roadblock. As he was in the process of turning back, with the car still slanted across the road he was approached by a group of armed men.
One of the men asked him to “buy a juice” and he responded “not now”.
To his horror, the man started to pepper the car with bullets, hitting little Christina in the head and Krishelle in the chest. As the blood oozed from the girls’ wounds, Sammons, who also sustained gunshot wounds to his left hand and right side of his jaw, gunned the car towards the hospital in a gallant attempt to save their lives.
It was a difficult journey–he developed breathing difficulties along the way as the blood gushed down his throat and through his mouth. On reaching Vernon’s Drive, a little way from the hospital, he saw a driver whom he knew and asked him to transport them to the hospital. But on realising that he would lose precious time transferring the girls to the vehicle, he abandoned the plan and recommenced his journey, bursting the left rear tyre in the process, after hitting a pot hole.
Determined not to stop he kept driving, even as Krishelle who was slumped in the front passenger seat beside her motionless sister, wailed relentlessly.
“Me decide say me naw stop. Long time me a drive and know how to hold steering. Me press but each corner me go around me can feel the car like it want to spin around with me,” he said. “When me reach the hospital me tell them that me daughter them get shot because I was not worrying about my shots. Is just me two daughters them me worry about.” But Christina, whom Sammons recalled as a loving girl who kept him up talking at nights, didn’t make it.
He explained that Christina who lived with her mother in Flankers had come to stay with him six days before the incident. She had been expected to remain with him until her mother recovered from an illness.
“I have been through a lot of what happened in Rose Heights: the police thing and warring thing, rough time. When me could be right here sitting down we would have to be looking for cars coming through fe come shoot up the place and we have to be looking to run same way because police naw go see we and pass we you understand?” he said. “And now we say peace and a that we a embrace, no reprisal. No war, a just peace and love we say for everyone”.
A memorial service will be held for Christina at the West Green Seventh-day Adventist Church on Sunday, May 16. In the meantime, according to Pastor King, plans are afoot to honour Sammons for his bravery.