Mental health issues: Father of Linstead youth killed overseas appeals for stricter gun laws

The father of a Jamaican native shot dead by police in the state of Delaware has appealed for autorites in the United States to implement stricter gun control policies, adding that his son was allowed to legally obtain a firearm despite having a history of mental issues.

Ricardo Henry Hylton, 35, who originally is from the Linstead area of St Catherine in Jamaica, was shot dead about 7PM on Friday (August 30) at North Washington Street in Wilmington, Delaware.

Wilmington police indicated that they fatally shot Ricardo because he was ‘actively firing’ a gun when they responded to an emergency call about gunshots in the neighbourhood.

Ricardo’s gun was recovered at the scene.

Charley Hylton, father of the deceased, told The Beacon that his son acquired the gun about two years ago despite being told to avoid the weapon because of his mental issues.

He was tripolar, effectively meaning that he had a personality that swung between the extremes of joy, sadness and anger.

His father recalled: “At the time when my son told me he was going to get the firearm permit, my response was that ‘yuh nuh really need that’. With all honesty, he is in denial in regards to his illness. He will tell you openly that he is tripolar. However, he doesn’t take the medication; he doesn’t believe in it.”

The father further stated that he first witnessed Ricardo’s condition about four years ago in Jamaica, adding that Ricardo ended up spending a week at University Hospital of the West Indies as a result of mental problems.

He said, although the family is devastated by the tragedy, he would like his son’s death to become a catalyst for change.

“I would blame the system. Why I would blame the system? It’s too easy for people to become licensed firearm holders in America; it is too easy. In Jamaica, it is more difficult because you would have people do background checks and you would have vigorous interviews and all of that because they need to know who they are giving the gun,” the father said.

He further told The Beacon: “If the authorities did their background checks, they would know my son has a mental problem; there are times when his mind is not there. So why would you allow him to own a firearm? I would love for a change even within the state of Delaware; I wouldn’t want my son to just die like that. I would want to know that out of this comes a law that you must do proper background checks on people before you grant them a firearm.”

The father, in the meantime, said he is not sure what triggered the latest episode of mental problems that caused his son’s demise.

He however stated that his son was devastated because one of his closest friends committed suicide a few days ago.


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