Hundreds of persons turned out Wednesday afternoon at a funeral service for 18-year old Jason Carroll, the latest victim of gun violence on St. Thomas.
Many recalled the University of the Virgin Islands freshman as having a creative spirit, a great sense of humor and outstanding ability in interscholastic sports — all in all, a well-rounded young man.
From his days at Montessori School to his higher education at All Saints, Jason Carroll received glowing tributes from family and friends at the almost two-hour-long service.
Carroll, a member of the All Saints Class of 1999, was gunned down May 23 during a struggle with a 24-year-old Hospital Ground man, Deshaune Harrigan. Harrigan is in jail on second-degree murder and weapons charges.
Carroll is the son of First Assistant U.S. Attorney James Carroll and his wife, Celia.
The funeral service brought out the who's who in the legal community. From judges to lawyers to members of the Legislature and Gov. Charles Turnbull, all were in attendance at the solemn funeral service at historic All Saints Cathedral on Commandant Gade.
Carroll's father eulogized his son, describing him as "forever my man-child."
James Carroll said his son "was in the process of becoming and it was exciting to watch."
Carroll recalled his final conversation with Jason Carroll: "He was happy and confident, he was going out to get a job and he was confident and upbeat."
A touching moment during the eulogy came when Carroll singled out those who rendered assistance to his son after he was shot.
Fighting back tears, Carroll said, "They were loving and caring people who took time to try and save Jason's life and to say prayers for our son and brother." He added, "We are grateful for their assistance and are humbled by the superhuman efforts they expended trying to save Jason." Carroll described the four men as "angels sent by God to be with Jason during his last minutes." Approaching death, as in life, Jason Carroll was not afraid, his father said.
After the service, the funeral procession stretched for more than two blocks, from the church down Garden Street. At Emancipation Garden, mourners heard presenters denounce the rapid increase of incidents involving gun violence. Assistant U.S. Attorney Curtis Gomez said the Virgin Islands must be prepared to deal with reality.
"We are among the nation's leaders in murders per capita," Gomez said. Most murders are committed with handguns, and blacks are seven times more likely to commit murder here than whites, he said. Blacks are also more likely to become the victims of murder. "It is undeniable that we are killing ourselves," Gomez said.
Both of Jason Carroll's parents addressed the candlelight vigil at Emancipation Garden, calling for action to halt gun violence. Speaker after speaker echoed their call.
Jason Carroll will be interred at Pine Lawn Memorial Park in Farmingdale, N.Y., after a Saturday morning funeral service in Jamaica, N.Y.