Dr Brian O’Toole
December 17 2019
Director of School of the Nations, Dr Brian O’Toole said he had a fruitful meeting last week with Crime Chief (ag) Michael Kingston in relation to the almost one-year-old shooting in which he was wounded.
In a statement he however expressed frustration at the outcome of a meeting yesterday with US Embassy officials on the same matter.
Both interactions he believes were as a result of an article carried last week by Stabroek News and a letter in the Guyana Chronicle.
O’Toole said that during last week’s meeting, Kingston was provided with “every piece of evidence and information we have” in relation to the shooting. This, he added, includes information on the suspected persons of interest.
“The Crime Chief was therefore again given names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and home addresses of ‘persons we believe are of interest’, O’Toole said.
O’Toole was shot at his home on January 27th, hours after he had called a meeting at the school to address threats that had surfaced online against the institution’s student body. The threats were made via Facebook and police and cybersecurity experts have been trying to locate the individual responsible.
The shooting resulted in the paralysis of O’Toole’s left hand. He has since undergone five surgeries on the hand.
The school was temporarily closed after parents expressed their fears about security in light of the threats and the subsequent shooting of O’Toole. Prior to reopening, the school intensified its security and adopted an active shooter response plan.
Dissatisfied with the police investigation, parents also staged a peaceful protest in front of the Ministry of Public Security’s Brickdam office, where they announced a $1 million reward for any information that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrator/s.
Information that was circulated suggested that the shooter was identified and had gone to the United States.
O’Toole yesterday further explained that for the first time since the incident, he met with officials from the US Embassy.
He said during the meeting, the Head of Security at the embassy repeatedly told him that the US Embassy has no jurisdiction in the matter.
“In the meeting this afternoon the Head of Security repeated, four times, that the US Embassy has no jurisdiction in this matter,” O’Toole said.
“Perhaps I am indeed missing something that a boy who has lived in the US for more than a decade, and continues to reside there, and who makes life threatening threats in social media, threats that materialized mere hours after posting, is somehow not the responsibility of the US government”, O’Toole stated.
Just last Wednesday, Stabroek News had reported that the probe was at a standstill after both O’Toole and the police differed on the reason why his assailant had not yet been brought to justice.
When contacted for an update on the police investigation last Monday, Kingston had told Stabroek News that there is a “thick file” on the investigation, which remains open. “We have a thick file, we have a thick investigating file…The investigation is not closed. Any bit of information we get, we pursue it,” he had said.
Kingston, however, noted that unless O’Toole divulges the information which he claims he had, which might lead to the alleged shooter, the matter is likely to remain unsolved.
“Mr O’Toole on several occasions was contacted by the investigator of this matter. He said that he knows somebody who has information and we have been asking him to take us to the person so that we can have a statement…He is not doing it…I don’t know how Mr O’Toole expects this matter to be solved,” Kingston had said.
Give us the name
“…We asked him to just give us the name, let us approach the people and he is not doing it…We have been continuously asking him to give us the information of the persons who he claims have information. He is not doing it and until he is prepared to do it, we are [not] going to move forward with the investigation,” he added.
Kingston had further said that the police had no information on the alleged shooter.
“No, we can’t, we don’t. He said he has that information through some parent or something and we asked him to give us the name…We will find a way to cut around and see how we can extract the information from the person and he is not cooperating to give us the name and he continues to write and bombard the police and he is not cooperating,” he had said.
However, O’Toole had denied Kingston’s statements.
He said that two days after the shooting, he provided the police with a description of the alleged shooter which hasn’t changed to date. “…I gave them all that description on the second day. That description has never changed. That’s total rubbish,” O’Toole had said.
Kingston told Stabroek News that from the inception, investigators have worked on “every bit of information” that was provided to them by O’Toole.
He said the police even sought international assistance in the matter.