Community celebrates Guyanese kid’s life

New York state Senator, Roxanne Persaud and Consul General of Guyana to New York, Barbara Atherly against a picture display of deceased 4-year-old Shimron Smith.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

A picture display outside the chapel of Caribe Funeral Home in Brooklyn, last Sunday of deceased four-year-old Shimron Smith enjoying the outdoors like many kids his age, was a stirring reminder of the short, but fun life he enjoyed, before it was cut-short by a cruel twist of fate.

Tears of sorrow flowed for Shimron, eulogized as a little boy with great promise and talent, but who died tragically, when his mentally ill 20-year-old brother, Shawn Smith Jr. threw him from the roof of the Brooklyn building where the family lives.

Guyana-born Odessa Frith, 39 who migrated to the United States, just 10 months before the tragedy, received overwhelming support from mourners, seen embracing her, and the child’s father Shawn Smith Sr. to console the grieving couple.

Frith, mother of now five children, was joined by Shawn Smith Sr., who, along with his mother Mrs. Smith, arrived in the US thanks to kind compliments of Fly Jamaica Airways, the same day of the funeral.

According to reports, Keith Frith, filed immigration papers to migrate his daughter Odessa and her six children. However, Shawn Jr. who was hospitalized in Guyana due to mental illness later followed his mother and siblings.

He however had a relapse and spent three weeks in Kings County. Odessa has said after Smith’s mental health treatment, “Everything was okay.” However, apparently this was not the case, and Smith who confessed to killing of his brother, is now incarcerated.

Sen. Roxanne Persaud, who attended the funeral, expressed condolences to family members, stating she received a call from the 63rd Precint at 3 am on the day of the tragedy, and thanked the work of PO Benjamin and PO Murray of the NYPD, who worked beyond the call of duty to take care of the needs of the family.

She also lauded Claire Goring and the Guyana Cultural Association, Borough President Eric Adams, and many others who gave financial and emotional support during the tragic circumstances.

The politician said mental health is alive and well, and called on the minority community to seek help. “It is ok to ask for help when there is a mental health issue, said Sen. Persaud, who noted that there is a stigma attached to mental health, many times people being referred to as “mad,” and called Shimron’s death a tragedy.

“Neighbors saw Shawn exhibiting mental health traits, but no one reached out to help. If we do not get involved, tragedies like this will continue to happen in our community,” added the politician.

Consul General, Barbara Atherly who was also present at the funeral, said she was on her way to Guyana when NYPD PO McPherson, and Sen. Persaud called to let her know about the tragedy that had taken place. She immediately spoke with family members, for whom she had passports expedited, for travel to the United States.

The diplomat expressed sadness at the tragic loss of little Shimron, who had just started kindergarten, stating that mental health is a concert, and it is sad this played a main part in this particular case.

“I see a mother grieving for both sons. It is a painful exercise for a mother to go through. I would like to extend my condolence, and as the representative of the Guyana Consulate in New York, my thoughts and prayers are with her, and if she needs any more help through the consulate, we are willing to give it, said CG Atherly.

Councilmember, Jumaanie Williams wished family members peace, saying, he went into shock when he saw the tragedy on the news, because he once lived two buildings from where it occurred, adding that he was amazed at the strength of the family.

He pointed out that it is clear the city is not doing enough when it comes to mental health. “We should not confuse mental illness issues, with general mental health, this was clearly a psychotic issue,” noted Williams, who said he is waiting on a mental health report from the city, adding that the tragic circumstances surrounding 20-year-old Shawn Smith Jr. of East Flatbush, is timely, not only from the police standpoint but from top to bottom of mental health issues. “It is about time that we do this in memory of Shimron.”

Parents, Odessa Frith and Shawn Smith Sr. with one of their now five kids after the funeral service at Caribe Funeral Home on Utica Avenue, Brooklyn.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

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