Monrovia — Josia Saah had known Precious Ireland's mother since their childhood; their friendship grew into sisterhood over the years and to her, Precious was like a daughter. Sadly, Precious was killed by her own son - an incident that has left her in a state of shock and pain.
"The child in question here was like a daughter to me. She calls me aunty, I don't know how I'm going to live with this, but I trust that God is in control," she said.
Josia sobbed profusely. She said she is going through a double hurt - losing a daughter and having a son who has jeopardized his future.
"All I want to tell the public is that I am sorry. I am very sorry. I want to tell the Irelands that I am very sorry. I am deeply sorry," she said in a faint voice with tears rolling down her cheeks.
How Jovanus Obtained the Gun
She said contrary to what has been circulating in the public, she has never known her son as a trouble maker. "I'm not here to justify anything, but Jovanus has never given me any troubles," she said. "I'm so broken it's like I've lost two children," she added.
She said her son has never been expelled from any school for any unruly behavior.
Responding to questions on how he obtained the gun, Ms. Saah said the 9mm pistol used in the act belonged to her late fiancé. She said, after his unexpected death, some members of his family began to fight her over property which she and her late fiancé had purchased from them for US$100,000.
He died when their daughter was less than a year old.
However, due to the constant harassment and the memories of her late fiancé, she decided to leave the house and rent elsewhere. She then moved with all his belongings, some packed in cartoons.
Her late fiancé, Lauvette Williams died two years ago, and according to Josia, she did not want to have bad memories so she did not venture checking in any of the boxes.
She said Lauvette was a broker for Cellcom (now Orange) so they had so many cartoons of personal belongings and documents.
"Since I was frustrated I didn't want to look in any of those things for flashback. I just left it. This day, I couldn't find certain amount of money and I told them to find it. When I went to the police station, I asked him, he said he was checking for the money and he saw it. He said he told his friends and that's how he carried it on campus," she said.
She said her son informed her that he and his friends were playing with it.
"He said, one person will look at it, the next person will take it and look at it and then he put it on his side. So Precious told him 'Jovanus, take that gun from your side before you kill yourself... He said it was in the process of taking the gun, that's how it blew off'. That's what he explained to me," she said.
She said she was never aware that the gun was in any of the boxes she had moved to her new house, though she was aware that Lauvette had a gun.
"He used to say when rogue comes to the house, he will kill them with his gun so tell the rogues I have a gun, and we will all laugh about it. There are a lot people to attest to that. But I didn't know that the gun was in the cartoons I brought to the other house," she said.
She lamented that the denial of her late fiancé's family that he never owned a gun.
According to her, some members of the family have constantly fought her the property she and her husband had bought from them though they issued she and Lauvette illegitimate documents which was an issue between she and her fiancé and them until his demise.
Explaining the Jovanus' 'Trigger Happy Pictures
Questioned about several pictures of Jovanus on social depicting his obsession with guns, Ms. Saah said Jovanus has a friend who takes part in the shooting game at the Olympics - the son of Mr. Philipbert Brown and they both played with toy guns which he used to practice for his competitions at the Olympics.
"I don't want to say something that will make people to feel that I am not mourning Precious, but Jovanus is not a bad child," she said.
"His friend represents Liberia at the Olympics and he went to his friend and they took picture with that gun. That was a toy gun," said while weeping.
Her lawyer, Cllr. Swaliho A. Seysay added that the guns displayed by Jovanus on Facebook was once investigated by the Liberia National Police who certified that the guns were toy guns and were only intended for Olympic purpose.
"This is not a situation for someone to use as a means of fighting another person back," he said.
He said Jovanus can be considered as one of the regular boys that would surprise us or cause problems for us. "They sometimes do things that are not of our doing and we would be questioned by that," he said.
Precious Ireland, 14, the daughter of renowned doctor, Dr. Philip Ireland, was shot during the early morning hours of April 13 at the Cyber-Ed Christian School of Excellence campus. She was pronounced dead on arrival at the SOS Clinic where was immediately for medical attention.
Jovanus Turay, 16, of the 11th grade was later picked up by the Anti-Robbery Squad of the Liberia National Police. The police retrieved the 9mm pistol which he reportedly used to shoot the 14-year-old.
This is the first school shooting in Liberia.
Last 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.
Father Expresses Regrets
Mr. Sylvanus Turay, Jovanus' father, described the incident as a "heartbreaking and disappointing" happening that has broken down and "killed" many people, including him.
In a live podcast on the social media from the United States last Thursday morning, Mr. Turay, who is a renowned Liberian movie actor and producer disclosed in tears that the Irelands and Turays are families, but the incident is unfortunate and sad.
"I know that a lot of people are horrified. It's horrifying disappointing. It's something that every parent will get terrified about. But I thought to just speak to the hearts of people, our Liberians, parents, children, families, the government, our judiciary every person, every child, adult, a girl or a boy".
"The boy that caused the demise or death of Precious - that boy has killed a lot of people. He killed her, but he killed me and a lot of people. I want people to understand that Precious is like a child to me. I want people to understand that I didn't get to know Precious from my son's school. She's a family. I want people to understand that that bullet took a lot of lives".
With tears profusely rolling down his cheek, Mr. Turay regretted the incident involving his son.
He clarified that every child of the Ireland's family, including Daniel, Aaron, Nathaniel, Hannah are "like my own", while the deceased parents are like a brother and sister to him.
"I want to express my regret about the incident. I want people to understand that we are sorry about the death of Precious".