Dr O’Toole makes painful recovery

‘Nations’ Principal, Dr Brian O’Toole

— wants those involved in shooting brought to justice

PAINFULLY recovering from the January shooting which left one of his arms paralysed, “Nations” Principal Dr Brian O’Toole is calling on local law enforcement to ensure those involved in the crime are brought swiftly to justice.

It has been over two months since Dr O’Toole was shot at his Bel Air Promenade, Georgetown home, following a terrorist threat to students of the school by an unknown person.

Dr O’Toole said the shooter stood only five feet away and he got a clear look at his face. This makes him certain that the teenager with whom he had locked eyes is a different person from a student who was expelled for threatening to “shoot up ‘Nations’.”
Fast-forward to mid-April and the principal is concerned that investigations have significantly slowed down but he, however, is constantly reminded of the shocking night through his painful recovery.

“I had four operations. The hand is paralysed, just like a piece of wood,” Dr. O’Toole said, pointing to where the doctors cut his arm to replace bone with steel.

On the part of his arm where he has feeling, O’Toole said: “It hurts all day, all night.”
He is thankful that his wife persuaded him about a year ago to take “a very expensive insurance” which has covered the US$75,000 it has cost so far for his four operations.
“I have to go back again, in three weeks’ time. On a physical level it’s been tough, but I could have easily been killed,” he said.

The Guyana Police Force has launched an investigation into the shooting and threats and has since questioned a narrowed-down number of current and former students of the private school.

While the Guyana Chronicle was unable to reach the Crime Chief’s department for an update, the last indication given was that the investigation is still ongoing.

However, O’Toole, while realising the limitations when it comes to revealing investigation leads, would like to see better communication coming from the local force to update him on the situation at hand.

“I [previously] sent a letter to the police commissioner, I said that I’m in the States for treatment, this is my cell number; my Skype and I will go to the American police station so you’ll know you’re talking to me, but not even the courtesy of a one-line response. Nothing. So I just sent them another letter to say I’m back,” Dr O’Toole said.

The principal believes that very clear evidence has been given to show that the individual behind the events is someone in Florida, who posted incriminating information on the Internet, which included blowing up the university.

“The day after I was shot; that same person — hundreds of people know who he is — begged for protection; for immunity. He said if you protect me I’ll give you the whole story.

So we’re trying now, with the American ambassador, to see [whether] the FBI followed up the guy in Florida. If they didn’t, how is that possible? [Because] if you make a statement like that when you’re about to board a plane, you’ll never get on an airline again. And yet he posted he’s going to blow up [a school]; he has a picture of a gun and says I’m going to throw chemicals on students,” the “Nations” director said, suggesting that no results have come out yet.

He stated further that he was informed by cyber security officials that the suspects’ list was narrowed down to a few individuals who are deep into the video game “Fortnite,” but this has since been dismissed.

“They said that they know that these are the two people who are the administrators; they are the only ones who are able to post, but since then the police have said ‘no, that’s not true’.”

Dr. O’Toole said he has a vivid recollection of the shooting which he is certain was not a robbery, but a “targeted hit.”

He believes the individual is a “coward” and he still has many unanswered questions about why someone would commit such an act and who would want to assist in it.

Yet, one of the main reasons Dr O’Toole believes that the guilty individual/s must be brought to justice is due to the domino effect which occurred at other schools in the capital as a result to the threat at “Nations.”

Following the shooting and threats to “Nations,” bomb threats were made at the Mae’s schools, Bishops’ High, Queen’s College and the University of Guyana (UG).
While these are the negatives of what occurred, Dr. O’Toole said that positives have come out of the situation.

Since then, the school has spent $US65, 000 on security in the last two months, while an after-school programme to steer youths away from such violent behaviours was launched.
“I think it has galvanised “Nations” to look at what are we going to do to save our youths,” Dr O’Toole said

He added: “Now we’re developing a programme for youths on Saturdays from 14:00hrs (2:00 pm) to 16:00hrs (4:00 pm) where we look at drugs, alcohol, the evils of the Internet; and it has galvanised the community to do something and not moan and groan and say what a mess Guyana is.”

Asked whether he knows if he will regain feeling in his arm, Dr. O’Toole said: “I don’t know. I hope so. The nerve is shattered, so they’re trying to see if nature will take its course. If not, they’d take some nerving from my foot.”

In the meantime, he wants law officials to do their part by keeping him in the loop on the investigation into the shooting which has since cost him, his school and family great distress.

“At least to tell us that we are investigating [or] we’ve closed the case. Is it unreasonable to expect 12 weeks later just to have a one-line to say ‘we know you’re frustrated, but please be assured we’re investigating and we can’t tell you everything we’re doing’? I don’t think so,” he said.