Nations principal leaves for treatment in US

Nations Principal, Dr Brian O’Toole

SCHOOL of the Nations Principal, Dr Brian O’Toole, has winged out to the US for further treatment following the attack by a lone gunman at his Bel Air Promenade, Georgetown home about two weeks ago.

Dr O’Toole, who was warded at the Woodlands Hospital, suffered a shattered bone and artery in the left hand during the shooting that occurred just as he was about to enter his home. Prior to his shooting, a student was expelled after he threatened to shoot-up the school.

Several persons have been questioned as police continue their hunt for the shooter and the persons behind the shooting. On Tuesday, the school’s Parent Teachers’ Association (PTA) demanded that the Guyana Police Force update the nation on the progress made in investigating the threats of destruction that have rocked the school and other educational institutions in recent days.

Standing a short distance away from the Ministry of Public Security, four parents led by the PTA’s President, Anna Lisa Fraser-Phang, pleaded for answers from the authorities, in particular the Guyana Police Force.
To assist with the investigation, the small group of parents is offering a $1M reward to person(s) who may have credible information that may lead to the capture of the perpetrators.

Threats have also been issued to students at Queen’s College and Bishops’ High School and in recent days, the University of Guyana (UG). These institutions, like Nations, were forced to beef-up security on and around their premises. UG on Thursday announced that it will close its Turkeyen Campus until Monday.

“Officers of the police force and fire service conducted a thorough search of the campus on Wednesday afternoon, February 6. No explosive of any kind or suspicious object was found during this search. The closure of the campus will enable the administration, staff and student leaders to review the situation and enhance preventive and responsive measures for such threats. Classes and full operations will resume on Monday, February 11, 2019,” UG said in a statement.

O’Toole on Thursday expressed gratitude to the doctors at the Woodlands Hospital who cared for him, as well as the police investigating the shooting.
“I want to thank the police for all their efforts to date. Every day they must do so much for us all – and yet, of necessity, we remain unaware of all that they are doing. It must surely be a very thankless job,” said Dr O’Toole, who has received more than 550 messages of support from families, friends and well-wishers from around the world.

Putting the shooting and threats into context, he told Guyana Chronicle that in today’s society, the breakdown of the old world order is evident on a daily basis, and should be addressed.
“Our only response can be to play our part in building a new world order based on very different values. I have no doubt at all that Nations, and indeed our sister schools around Guyana, will come out of this situation far, far stronger.

“For almost two years now at Nations, we have been working on a moral leadership programme that tries to look at some of the challenges facing our youth – depression, isolation, anger, feelings of helplessness, drugs – and the list can go on. We, at Nations, are in the process of greatly expanding this programme. We are more than delighted to open this programme to youth from outside Nations – anyone interested should contact the Nations office. The sessions are on Saturdays,” he said.

Dr O’Toole also noted “the power” and “very real dangers” of social media, pointing out that this will be a focus of the training to help youths to see how the word can be a smoldering fire that ignites passion and destroys reason.
“People of my generation were never faced with such challenges but we must now struggle to appreciate the dangers this form of communication, once wrongly used, faces for our children and youth,” he told the Guyana Chronicle.