You probably won’t find a newspaper article titled, “Who was Andrew Buchanan?” You won’t find the media reports describing him as having difficulties in his personal life, or recovering from a broken relationship, having mental challenges. You won’t see a Hi5 photo of him sitting on a Mercedes Benz. No one waited eight hours to tackle him while he was armed and holding a plane crew hostage. He did not come out alive. This is Andrew Buchanan, not Stephen Fray.
Today, Andrew’s baby mother sounds as if she is speaking at a great distance from her feelings. She says her 12-year old daughter and her 18-month old baby have hardly stopped crying since the police killed Andrew at around 4 last Saturday morning.
Andrew, a 35-year-old blockmaker, was on bail in a case that came up in court as recently as last Wednesday. He was therefore reporting to the Constant Spring police station three times every week, and had last reported at the police station the Friday evening before his death. Yet last night, Deputy Superintendent of Police Carol McKenzie said on a television news programme that Andrew was wanted for murder and robbery. The reporter interviewing McKenzie didn’t ask the superintendent why the police didn’t hold Andrew when he reported as part of his bail agreement. The reporter also didn’t ask why, if Andrew was indeed wanted, he could not have been arrested and charged. Like Stephen Fray.
Here is the police story of how Andrew died: ” A police party was on patrol in the Grants Pen area when gunshots were heard. They say they responded and saw men running from a premises, when they investigated they reportedly came upon Mr. Buchanan who pointed a gun at them. Investigators say they took evasive action and Mr. Buchanan was shot and killed. An Astra 40 calibre pistol with a magazine containing seven rounds was seized.”
Now this is an account of Andrew’s death from his baby mother:
‘We were all asleep when I heard a kind of rumbling in the yard somebody walking on leaves outside. Nobody identified themselves, and I didn’t say anything either. Then Andrew say, “Who dat?” and I hear a voice say, “Police! Open the door and put your hands in the air.”
‘Andrew open the door and put his hands in the air. He had underpants and no shirt. I went to the door and saw a lot of police with guns. One of them push me back in the room. He tell me to turn on the light and lift up the bed. I think he mean the mattress and I try to lift it up but it’s heavy. He point the gun to me and say he mean me to lift up the bed. Same time I hear three gunshots outside. I hear like Andrew make a sound, and I let go the bed and call out “Andrew!”
‘The policeman tell me to stay in the room, and ask me if I sell ganja. I tell him no, and I see him with something in his hand. He ask me who round there sell ganja and I tell him I don’t know. Then the policeman tell me to put on my shoes. I go to put on some clothes as well, as I have on only my nightgown, but the policeman say I am just to put on shoes.
‘When I come out of the house I don’t see Andrew, but I see a pool of blood. I ask a policeman where is Andrew, and he tell me not to ask him any questions. I leave my house at about 5 am, and the police take me to Grants Pen police station and then to Constant Spring police station. The police say they charging me with having weed, and I don’t say anything because I just want to humble up myself and get home to my children. Up to when I finally leave the police station at 2.30 pm, the police still don’t tell me what happen to Andrew. The police don’t tell me Andrew dead.
‘When I come home, my daughter tell me that Andrew dead, and the police come back and wash away his blood. I hear that police wrap up his body in a white sheet and take him away while I was still inside the house.’
Here are some comments on the way the security forces dealt with Stephen Fray:
Prime Minister Golding: “(Security forces must be recognised for the) tremendous show of good judgement, professionalism and for the excellent way they confronted a challenge, which resulted in not one ounce of blood being shed.”
Minister of Transport and Works Mike Henry: “I commend the members of the security forces who, acting in the highest professional manner, succeeded in taking the perpetrator into custody without loss of life or injury to anyone.”
But Andrew Buchanan is not Stephen Fray.
Yvonne McCalla Sobers is Chairman, Families Against State Terrorism (FAST), a human rights group in Jamaica.