- For Special Corporal Jermaine Burgher, the courage to fight for his life on the terrifying afternoon of June 15, 2012, came from thinking about his young daughter, Alyssa.
- Mr. Burgher was shot several times by a gunman who attempted to rob the public passenger vehicle (PPV) on which he was travelling.
- “It was a surprise to me at first, but it’s always great to get an award like this. The whole time I was fighting, I was thinking about my daughter and the fact that I haven’t spent enough time with her. My daughter is my joy,”
For Special Corporal Jermaine Burgher, the courage to fight for his life on the terrifying afternoon of June 15, 2012, came from thinking about his young daughter, Alyssa.
On that horrifying day, Mr. Burgher, who was returning from a visit with his then six-month old child, was shot several times by a gunman who attempted to rob the public passenger vehicle (PPV) on which he was travelling.
“I went to look for my daughter in Portmore and when I was coming back, three men were trying to gain entry to the bus at Portmore Mall…the driver saw what was happening, and drove off (but) one (managed to gain entry to the Toyota Coaster bus),” he said.
The young Special Corporal said he became suspicious of the man, based on his conduct on entering the bus.
“He sat directly across from me. I was about three rows from the back on the driver’s side… the whole time he was staring at me. I knew he was up to no good (and) I suspect he was going to rob the bus. I don’t know if it was my demeanour or the way I looked – well shaven as a police man – I think he figured out that I was one,” he recounted to JIS News, after collecting his Medal of Honour for Gallantry, at the 2013 National Honours and Awards Ceremony, at King’s House, on October 21.
Special Corporal Burgher recalled that even though the gunman’s other assailants were unable to board the bus, he assumed he was working with a female accomplice.
“The female was the one who stopped the bus, and when she stopped the bus, he alighted from his seat with the firearm in his hand, and he said to me ‘shhhh’ with his hand across his mouth. I nodded affirmatively and before he could take even two steps, he turned back and said to me ‘eh police bwoy, mi know yu unuh, a dead yu fi dead’,” he said.
In an act of bravery, Special Corporal Burgher said he sprung to his feet in an attempt to disarm the young man, as even though he had his service pistol, he thought the gunman may have gotten the better of him at that time.
“The first shot I got in my left arm and we were there tussling. He put the gun to my ear but I held his hand and moved, that’s why it just grazed my ear. And then he got to fire one more, which hit me in my side,” he said.
Injured and in the face of great danger to himself, he was determined to overcome the gunman.
“We were still there tussling until I got to ease him off, kicked him, and his gun fell to the ground. I pulled my firearm, but the shot that I got in the hand rendered it useless, as it had damaged the nerve,” he said.
The Special Corporal said the gunman retrieved his gun and was about to shoot him again, but he managed to fire some shots that killed him.
The 26-year-old member of the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF), who returned to frontline duties recently, carries with him a bullet lodged near his spine, a scar on his left ear, and another on his left arm.
Being the sole recipient of the Governor-General’s Medal of Honour for Gallantry at the 2013 National Honours and Awards Ceremony, Special Corporal Burgher expressed shock at the recognition.
“It was a surprise to me at first, but it’s always great to get an award like this. The whole time I was fighting, I was thinking about my daughter and the fact that I haven’t spent enough time with her. My daughter is my joy,” he said.
A total of 179 outstanding Jamaicans, who have contributed to nation building in various fields, were fittingly recognised at the ceremony.
Civil honours presented at the ceremony included the Order of Merit, Order of Jamaica, Order of Distinction (commander and officer class), and the Badge of Honour for Long and Faithful Service, while members of the uniformed service, including the Jamaica Defence Force, Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Department of Correctional Services and the Jamaica Fire Brigade, received medals of honour for gallantry and meritorious service.