Charla Dopwell was riding home on a Montreal bus Monday after working double shifts for five days straight when her phone rang.
It was the police. They told her to get off the bus and they’d pick her up. Her youngest son was hurt.
“They rushed me to the hospital. They said he was stabbed up and he is critical. And they said they were doing their best to help him,” Dopwell said.
An hour or two later, she was told he had died. Jannai Dopwell-Bailey was just 16 years old.
“I am hollow,” she said.
“My baby. They take him away from me. I love my baby very much. And I will be in pain for the rest of my life.”
WATCH | Montreal mother recounts losing her child:
Jannai was a student at Mile End high school, an alternative school in Montreal’s west end, located in the basement of another school, Coronation Elementary.
According to police, there was a fight outside involving a group of teens.
Police say the victim was stabbed in the upper body, went into the school for help and was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries, where he later died.
Both schools cancelled classes Tuesday and a trauma team was sent to meet with staff and to assist students.
Videos mock victim
Montreal police are still looking for three suspects, and a spokesperson for the service said videos posted to social media after the attack will likely play a big part in the investigation.
In those videos, on Instagram and Snapchat, people are seen mocking Jannai’s death. In one, there are three people in ski masks holding a knife.
“I love my son and I want justice for him,” said Dopwell.
“The people who did it to him are making fun and walking around free … I want them to arrest these people. It’s modern technology and they know how to get to them.”
She said the police gave her a card, but haven’t spoken to her since. She questions the seemingly slow pace of the investigation, saying everybody is asking her if there have been any arrests. She says she doesn’t understand why it is taking so long, especially given the videos posted online.
A police spokesperson said there are still verifications to be made before suspects can be arrested.
“We totally understand it is never fast enough for the family,” said Const. Raphaël Bergeron. He said the police service’s major crimes unit is working hard on the case.
Dopwell says her son was loving and caring. He had a passion for dancing and rapping. He had dreadlocks and she used to warn him that the way he dressed might attract attention from police.
She says she told him, if the police did stop him, that he should stay respectful, but not answer their questions because “nobody is there to help you — just like nobody was there to help him when he was being brutally murdered.”
She says the videos online just add to her pain, and the pain of Jannai’s siblings, aunts and the rest of his family.
Now she can’t sleep.
“I twist. I turn. I twist,” she said.
‘He made us all laugh’
There is small memorial set up outside of Jannai’s school. Akivas Maza, 16, stopped by on Wednesday to place a flower and pay respects to his best friend growing up.
They went to elementary school together, Grades 1 through 6, and Maza has fond memories of Jannai’s humour and ability to dance.
“He was the funny kid in the group. He made us all laugh all the time. He wasn’t a bad kid. He meant a lot to me,” said Maza.
They spoke on the phone over the summer and planned to get together soon, he said, but that never happened. He couldn’t believe Jannai was dead when a mutual friend called to break the news.
“I was devastated,” said Maza, who has also seen the videos posted to social media.
“Obviously it hurts knowing they are proud of it in some way,” he said. “They don’t care about the pain they caused other people.”