Father of slain 7-year-old: ‘I wish I could trade places with him’

Father of slain 7-year-old: ‘I wish I could trade places with him’
Reyes Williams, a seven-year-old student of Thelma Gibson Primary, who was shot and killed during a drive-by shooting just weeks shy of his eighth birthday in September 2020.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Reyes Williams, a seven-year-old student of Thelma Gibson Primary was shot and killed during a drive-by shooting, just weeks shy of his eighth birthday.

Reyes’ father, Vallance Thompson, alongside his grandmother, Melanie Rahming-Thompson.

His father, Vallance Thompson, 54, said the young boy was at play when a bullet that was meant for someone else took his life,  just one hour before the nightly curfew commenced.

“He came out with the [stuffed] dog and the two other little kids and they just opened fire,” Thompson said.

“It hit him in his neck and he died right there on the spot.

“…You think that’s right for a seven-year-old boy”.

Reyes’ mother, Sandy Williams, fought back tears as she recalled the memories of her son, describing him as a gem, a good boy, and the sweetest kid ever.

“Y’all take my world away from me,” Williams said.

“I miss my son. I love my son. I miss my son.”

Police reported that shortly before Sunday night the occupants of a blue Nissan vehicle drove up to the residence on Esmeralda Avenue and Alexander Boulevard, Nassau Village.

A passenger discharged a firearm in the direction of the people standing in front of the property resulting in the child being shot.

Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle said yesterday that three men were in custody, and a team from the National Neighborhood Watch had been dispatched to Nassau Village to speak with people in that area.

“We are hopeful that we will be able to bring some resolution to this in due course,” Rolle said.

“We still want to appeal to persons responsible to come forward and help us to solve this matter.”

Thompson, a father of four, said the last time he saw Reyes was earlier that morning when he took him some food for breakfast and promised to come back later.

“He hugged me and said daddy I love you,” he recalled.

“…I say when I finish this job on Tuesday I will grab you for couple days to be with me. I can’t get that no more.”

He said when he received the call that night from family members saying, “come, Reyes get shot”, he didn’t know what to do.

“I was very shocked to see him lying down there like that, that’s a hurt,” he said.

“I prefer to trade the spot. Put me there and he stay living. That’s what I prefer.”

Williams described his son as a child who never caused any trouble.

“He was a sweet tender boy, always love you up and do things to make you happy.”

He said his son was curious about technology and always liked playing with electronics and always volunteered to fix them.

Reyes was living with his grandmother Melanie Rahming-Thompson.

Rahming Thompson said the young boy, who she had been helping take care of since he was eight-months-old, was her “gold”.

“He was a darling. Everybody loved him. I will miss him on the whole.”

She said she only regrets never taking the young boy on his first trip abroad like she had promised him to.

Several MPs yesterday visited the spot where Reyes was shot and offered condolences to his family.

Fox Hill MP Shonel Ferguson, Bains and Grants Town MP Travis Robinson and North Andros and The Berry Islands MP Carlton Bowleg presented a wreath to Reyes mother on behalf of the government.

Nassau Village MP Halson Moultrie phoned in on the presentation via video call, advising that he could not make it personally because he was on a self-imposed quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19.

“I’m sorry that this tragic incident occurred, where some young people just felt that they should act in a reckless way and do a drive-by shooting irrespective of who may have been a target,” Moultrie said to Williams.

“That is unacceptable behavior in this modern Bahamas.

“…We are going to do everything in our power to try to bring a resolution to this matter and pray for you so that you would be at peace during this time of bereavement.”

Uptick in crime

COP Rolle noted yesterday that police are always concerned about an uptick in crime but assured that they are doing what is required to make sure that they can respond in a timely manner.

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames, who also commented on the issue, said he understands how difficult it is for any family to go through such a traumatic experience.

He noted however that overall crime continues to trend downwards.

“We know despite the fact that we are in this COVID period, criminals are not going to sleep,” Dames said.

“…We know there are persons out there who are hell-bent on committing a crime.

“Their life will be a living hell because we are committed to ensuring our country is safe…But any time he updates me, I’m very pleased with how the numbers are trending.

“You’re not going to stop every murder, but it’s always very unfortunate.”

He added that he was saddened to hear about the killing of young Reyes.

“That life of young master William was tragic,” he said.

“I couldn’t sleep after getting the report from the commissioner. This is not only a police fight, all of us are in this believe it or not.”