Liberia: Relative of School Shooting Victim Wants Minor Perpetrator Tried as Adult


MONROVIA – Several social media pictures of 16-year-old Jovanus Oliver Turay who allegedly shot his 14-year-old school mate to death on Tuesday at the Cyber-Ed Christian School of Excellence depict his love for guns and demonstrates hisknowledge of how to handle firearm. 

Jovanus in several pictures is seen either holding a gun or using his hand to portray shooting at someone or himself. FrontPageAfrica has seen at least four of such photos.

The victim, Precious Ireland, is the daughter of Dr. Philip Z. Ireland, the head of Internal Medicine Unit at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center – Liberia’s biggest referral hospital.

Atty. Teklo Maxwell Grigsby, an uncle to the deceased, believes those pictures are traits that prove Jovanus’ capacity to handle firearm and he might have been “trigger-happy”.

Minor Can Tried as Adult

Atty. Grigsby who said he is stepping aside as Chairman of the National Commission on Small Arms to take up the case as a lawyer and a brother to the deceased mother told FrontPageAfrica in an exclusive interview that though he awaits the report of the police investigation, he would be pushing for trial as an adult.

He expressed disappointment over the statement issued by the school on Tuesday which described the incident and as “accidental”.

“I categorically disagree with the school position on accidental killing. I don’t think the school has any means to establish that. I don’t know the basis of such statement,”Atty. Grigsby said.

He further said, “There are traits of the kid that demonstrate the capacity to demonstrate firearm; obviously his track record will be made public.”

Grigsby dispelled the argument that the perpetrator being a minor cannot be held responsible for his action as he has no appreciation for crime. 

He said, while Section 4.1 Penal Lawprotects children under the age of 18, the Juvenile Law Chapter 11.21A also talks about people between the ages of 16 to 18 as well. So, even though a person below 18 can be considered as a juvenile. 

“Juvenile Procedure Code 11.21A says, if a person is of age 16 and that person commits an act which could be considered a crime committed by an adult, the Juvenile Court can withhold its jurisdiction for a circuit court with proper jurisdiction to look into the matter, to hear that case. So, you cannot out rightly say the person is a minor,” he said.

Grigsby added: “A person at age 16 to a greater extent can be determined to have capacity by a competent court of jurisdiction and where that happens the law provides that person can be prosecuted just how we would have done for an adult.”

FPA Observes Body Examination

On Wednesday, some relatives of the deceased excluding both parents gathered at the Samuel Stryker Funeral Home to witness the coroner from the Ministry of Justice and the forensic team of the Liberia National Police examine the remains.

It was observed that the 14-year-old student was shot twice at a very close range (on the left and right). 

A bullet entry and outlet were observed on the right side of her neck. There was also another bullet entry on lower jaw beneath her left ear. This bullet, according to the corona and the forensic team, came out on the right side of her neck, while the bullet that was fired from the right side of her neck did not come out of the body as no other outlet was established on the body. 

The examining team concluded that she died as a result of the shooting.

Perpetrator’s Mother Under Probe

Police spokesman, Col. Moses Carter told FrontPageAfrica on Wednesday that the mother of the perpetrator has been apprehended by for investigation. 

He said, she is being question as to how her son acquired the 9mm pistol.

While Carter could not give further details on the outcome of the investigation, a highly ranked police source said, the mother informed investigators that the gun was once owned by her late husband who worked with Customs.

President, Vice President Distraught 

President George Weah in a statement on Tuesday expressed deep consternation at the news of the unfortunate shooting incident at the Cyber-Ed Christian School into the death of the daughter renowned Dr. Ireland.

President Weah said no parent should be made to go through the sad reality of burying a child under such inconsolable condition.

“My heart goes out to the grieving parents, family and friends and I pray that they can take solace in the bosom of the Lord,” the President said.

At the same time, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, behind whose home the school is located, in a social media post urged parents to pay keen attention to their children.

She posted to Instagram, “A tragedy indeed for both families and our nation. Beware of the things that seem unimportant, for out of them arise the issues of life. A tragedy which needs to make parents stand up and pray. May God help us. My deepest sympathies to all.”