"RIP Kaylon Jacob...stop the violence in La Horquetta."
Seven weeks after the fatal shooting of Kaylon Jacob, La Horquetta resident and teenage entrepreneur, tributes to him continue.
On Thursday night, as the Trinidad and Tobago men's football team eked out a 1-0 win, 19-year-old substitute Nathaniel "Natty" James stole the show as he got his first goal at senior level for the national side.
James scored the winning goal against Curacao in the opening match of T&T's 2023/24 Concacaf Nations League A campaign at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo.
As he celebrated his goal in the 87th minute, James, himself from La Horquetta, took off his T&T shirt to reveal a poignant message.
The message paid tribute to Jacob, his friend, who was killed on July 22. Jacob, who lived at Winston Mulligan Drive, Phase Four, La Horquetta, ran a grill business and was on his way to deliver food to a relative in Phase Two.
After the match, James explained, "It was just a tribute to my friend who passed away due to gun violence in La Horquetta. I just wanted to dedicate the goal to him."
Jacob was "from my community," he said. "It was about me showing love. It was a big moment for my community, because there has been a lot of violence in La Horquetta these days.
"It was just basically a message to everyone. We need to come together as a community and as a country and just be one with each other and live in harmony."
Speaking to Newsday, Jacob's mother, Kerry-Ann Jacob, said she was overwhelmed on learning of James's tribute. She said Jacob and James were good friends and shared a similar mindset and perspective on life. Both young men were productive in pursuit of their goals.
"(Nathaniel) and Kaylon were really close," Kerry-Ann told Newsday. "Nathaniel's dad and I have known each other for years, as we all grew up together in La Horquetta. Nathaniel and Kaylon used to be in my yard hanging out all the time."
At the time of his death, Jacob was enrolled in the Civil Conservation Corps. He had done courses in barbering and photography, swam competitively during his time at Bon Air Secondary and also had a one-year stint with Exodus Steel Orchestra.
"(Kaylon) had everything, he didn't need anything," his mother said. "He was my everything. His death hurt me a lot. People keep telling me that I'm strong, but I don't think it's strength, it's courage."
When James celebrated her son, she couldn't contain her emotion.
"Oh my God, Nathaniel's celebration touched me!" she said. "I need to see Nathaniel now. I need to reach out to him and give him a big, tight hug.
"Nathaniel took the shirt off and then I saw the message and it had me overwhelmed.
"Kaylon touched so many hearts. I felt so proud about my son when I saw that. I always taught him to respect people, and he did just that. From a young age, I told him that respect would take him a long way in life."
Kerry-Ann, who has lived in La Horquetta for 40-plus years, says she is saddened by the state of the neighbourhood and the country.
"There is a lot of tension in the community. And this is an ongoing thing," she said. "You have boys who went to school together, or whose parents grew up together. They are now going after each other.
"I never expected this to happen to my son. He was defenceless."
She says she has had support from friends, family members and co-workers.
Her son's death, she said, "really took a toll on me, because this crime problem has now hit home. It's a different feeling when it's at your doorstep.
"And I am not speaking about La Horquetta alone, it's happening all over (the country)."
Before the match vs Curacao, T&T head coach Angus Eve also spoke about gun violence.
"I don't focus on negative stuff. I have to be focused for these guys here. These guys I'm putting my belief in for T&T," Eve said. "Young men are dying all over the place with gun violence. These men want to do something positive for their country."
Of her son's killers, Kerry-Ann said: "I don't want revenge for my son's death. He lived 18 years and he is in a better place now. I am willing to forgive. My child is already gone.
"I just want to know why they did this to Kaylon.
"I want them to put down the guns. You all need to have children, wives and carry on a good life."
There have been over 400 murders for 2023.
SOURCE: T&T Newsday