A young man with ‘boundless potential’

Those who knew Omar Davis Jr., the young man found murdered in the trunk of a car in Centreville on Tuesday, described him as an individual with a wonderful spirit, incredible energy, and boundless potential, noted Dr. Jack Thomas, president of Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, where Davis graduated in May with a double major in accounting and finance.

Davis, who grew up in Kemp Road and watched his father murdered in 2013, was the first in his family to graduate university four years after he received a scholarship through the Ministry of Education Public Schools Scholars Programme in 2018.

On social media, he had posted about graduating with a 4.0. 

It was on social media yesterday where the outpouring of grief, shock and anger was most evident at the news of the slaughter of a young man who was seen as a beacon of hope for other young men in his community and the wider Over-the-Hill area, which continues to be plagued by high levels of violent crime.

Reaction to the murder came from many quarters.

Prime Minister Philip Davis said he knew that Bahamians everywhere had a heavy heart over the killing.

“It is always agonizing to lose a young Bahamian,” Davis said in a statement.

“Here, we have a young man whose resolve to escape violence had fueled his outstanding achievements in our public schools and in further education. His determination and his success reached and inspired so many. To lose him this way, when he was about to embark on the next stage of his life, feels truly unbearable.”

Omar Davis Jr. was valedictorian at C.I. Gibson Senior High School.

A social media video showed his mother excitedly lifting him off the floor at his high school graduation after he left the stage.

He posted that “once mommy [is] happy everything else doesn’t matter”.

More recent Facebook posts show Davis celebrating with relatives who attended his graduation in Ohio in May.

According to his grieving mother, Gia Whymns, he was due to head to Atlanta in two weeks to start an internship at Deloitte.

He had also planned to attend graduate school. His dream was to become a certified public accountant.

The prime minister said the nation grieves with Davis’ family.

“We add to our prayers our shared determination to come together, as policymakers, as community leaders, and clergy, and families, and friends, and neighbors – to do ever more to fight the scourge of violence even when our hearts are this heavy.”

Opposition Leader Michael Pintard also released a statement.

“The killing of Omar Davis Jr., a young man with much potential, has sent shock waves throughout our country as, yet again, families and the community that have given them birth record another tragic demise of another young man,” Pintard said.

“We must all collectively continue to call for and demand that the senseless bloodshed and human carnage cease on our streets.”

Pintard said Davis’ dogged determination to succeed against all odds was and will forever be an inspiration to many.

Former Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd, who was born and raised in Kemp Road, was present in 2018 when young Davis gave a speech during the Ministry of Education’s Public Scholars Awards Ceremony, telling the story of his father’s murder and how he used his father’s words — that he should pursue a better path than him — as inspiration to succeed.

“The current spiral of violence, despair, frustration, anger, apparent aimlessness and hopelessness risks a callous insensitivity in people’s hearts,” said Lloyd in a Facebook post. 

“We are a kind and loving people. I hope this present environment doesn’t sap our innate sense of compassion and appropriate fraternity.

“I also hope that the current atmosphere doesn’t potentially defeat the aspirations of students abroad who may consider a return home after graduation to offer their useful talents for the advancement of their beloved society. A few I talked to recently do have understandable reservations.”

Lloyd said while the situation is becoming frightening, he remains hopeful.

“Twenty-five years ago, I led a program for young men headed down the wrong path,” he said.

 “We refocused over 1,000 of them. In 2013, I restarted the same program at Baha Mar, where another 1,000 lives were transformed. Many of our young people, especially young men, are in need of an urgent, positive intervention.”

Omar Davis Jr. was 21.

Police said yesterday they had four individuals between ages 20 and 56 in custody in relation to the murder.

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Candia Dames

Candia Dames is the executive editor of The Nassau Guardian.

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