Sat | Oct 31, 2020

Teen breaks neck running for his life - Principal mourns bizarre death of ‘one-of-a-kind’ 15-y-o student

Published:Saturday | November 16, 2019 | 12:00 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Ryan Harper graduating from Constant Spring Primary and Junior High School.
Ryan Harper, 15, broke his neck trying to escape from a gun attack in Stony Hill on Thursday night.

A Stony Hill community has been plunged into mourning after a 15-year-old boy died in bizarre circumstances on Thursday, suffering a broken neck as he tried to flee a gun attack at a late-night party.

Principal of Stony Hill Technical High, Eric Smith, says the school community has lost a “one-of-a-kind” student in Ryan Harper, a ninth-grader.

Ryan, of Richings Close, Brooks Level, was one of two persons who died in the shooting incident, which occurred about 11:45 p.m.

The other deceased has since been identified as 44-year-old mason, Cleveland Wright.

Ryan, our news team understands, died as a result of a broken neck he sustained while trying to flee from the scene.

Residents who spoke to our news team said that Ryan was not a patron at the party but happened to stop near the venue on his way to purchase food.

Smith, who has known Ryan for quite some time before he started school in September, said the school community is overcome with grief, compelling him to dismiss classes earlier than usual yesterday.

“He was a one-of-a-kind student. Ryan came to us in September, but it would appear as if he was here for years,” said Smith. “Those who knew him since September, he had a lasting impression on them. He was well disciplined and hard-working.”

He continued: “He would go around to every office, call you by name, and ask if you are OK. If we could have more Ryans here, it would be awesome.”


Reports from the St Andrew North police are that patrons were at a bar along Brooks Level Road when a silver Nissan Tiida drove up and came to a stop. The Gleaner understands that two masked men alighted from the vehicle and opened fire at the gathering.

Wright was reportedly shot in his head and several others injured during the attack.

The police were summoned to the scene and the injured persons were rushed to the Kingston Public Hospital, where Wright and Harper were pronounced dead.

A senior police officer confirmed that Harper’s neck was broken and that no gunshot wounds were found on his body.

When the news of the 15-year-old’s death was relayed to the school population yesterday, students and teachers were reduced to tears.

“We are torn apart. When it was announced, everybody was weakened,” said Smith. “Grades seven, eight, nine and 10 students were crying. Our boys broke down.”

Smith was, however, grateful for the support the school received from the ministry, churches and well-wishers.

“The teachers and students have been receiving counselling. The local pastors and the (education) ministry sent a strong team along with guidance counsellors from other schools,” the principal said.