Javon Wheatley is not well known in Jamaica. But his dad is.
The first born of former Energy Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley was marked for death by a certain infamous gang which still operates in the Spanish Town area of St Catherine, at a time when his father was trying to clean up the former Jamaica capital, in his role as mayor and chairman of the then St Catherine Parish Council, now St Catherine Municipal Corporation.
That was one of the defining moments of Dr Wheatley’s life, as he had to institute tactics to prevent the unthinkable from happening in 2008.
When I was mayor, I did some serious work in terms of locking down some illegal bus parks at Railway in Spanish Town,” stated Dr Wheatley in an exclusive interview with the Jamaica Observer last week.
“You will recall we had to lock down the transportation centre and run everybody off the road, with their illegal parking. So I remember I was overseas at one time and got a call from the head of the St Catherine north police, Superintendent [Anthony] Castell, that they got some information that this gang wanted to kill my son.
“The information ran in a circle. A guy, who was a member of the gang, was part of the discussion to kill my son at St Jago [High School]. He was in fifth form at the time. The gang member told his cousin who was a member of the rival gang at the time, and that rival gang member told the police. So when the police checked the underground intelligence, they realised that it was true that plans were being made to kill my son,” Dr Wheatley confirmed to the Sunday Observer.
Immediately, arrangements had to be made to protect the young man, who graduated recently from a United States institution as an executive chef.
The threat level was so high that it resulted in the lad having to be taken to and from school daily for the rest of the school term, the last one before graduation. A security person was also assigned to stay with the youth at St Jago during the day.
“He didn’t even graduate high school, as he finished his CXC [Caribbean Examinations Council] I sent him to stay with a friend in the United States, a KC [Kingston College] man,” Dr Wheatley revealed.
My son did not even know about the situation, although he was worried and was wondering why the police were picking him up every day. It affected me, I was very fearful for my child. I always had to have my CPO [close protection officer] because of the nature of the work and the areas that I represent, because there was always volatility in Spanish Town. But we have been able to move past that. We were only trying to bring law and order in Spanish town, but it caused some amount of anxiety,” Wheatley shared.
What happened next unsettled the Wheatley family but conscious coordination prevented anything from happening.
People would not understand what we went through,” Dr Wheatley continued. “My son returned to Jamaica only once after that, and he still doesn’t know the full extent of what happened. Few people knew about it. I took him from his mother when he was three years old. My mother was very worried about it because at the time he was living with her. She was very nervous about it because she was a Christian, and to see police cars, and undercover cars coming to the house, it made her nervous.
“That was one of the most terrifying times and experiences of my life. That one reached home because it was my first child. The system forced me to send him away because they said the mayor was going on too bad in Spanish Town and they had to quiet me,” said the Member of Parliament for St Catherine South Central.