Situation uncomfortable, stressful for neighbors, family members, police

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 21, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

When Abdul Jamal Skinner took his girlfriend and their child hostage early Monday morning, it was an incident that not only affected the three of them, but several other family members and friends.

His mother, Bonita Skinner, arrived on the scene around 1:30 a.m. from Hampton. She was loudly proclaiming her outrage against police to anyone within two blocks of the incident.

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The angry mother couldn’t understand why she could not be taken to see her son. She wanted to speak with him; try to talk him out of the mess he’d created.

&uot;I was just so frustrated and I didn’t understand why I couldn’t go to talk with my son,&uot; said the distraught mother. &uot;Once they took him into custody and I was sure he was unhurt, they spoke with me and explained why I couldn’t see him sooner.&uot;

Suffolk Police Information Coordinator Mike Simpkins said it is not unusual for families of suspects to be angry when such incidents occur.

&uot;We didn’t want to take her to speak with him because he was extremely agitated and we could not be sure of what action he might take,&uot; said Simpkins. &uot;Also, sometimes in situations like this, a person in trouble may feel that they are going to end it all and this would be the last time he’d speak with his mother. Everything is so indecisive and it all must go slowly and carefully. Then, when an actual engagement takes place, it will move very quickly. It’s an extremely dangerous situation and police must take every precaution to protect the family as well as make sure the suspect is also treated fairly. It’s difficult…just difficult.&uot;

Skinner’s grandmother, Frances Smith of Church Street, said she is broken-hearted about the entire situation.

&uot;I am also just so glad no one was hurt,&uot; she explained. &uot;I was over here all night long, praying that he would come out. The police handled everything real well because they didn’t let him (Skinner) get hurt and I’m very grateful.&uot;

Skinner’s cousin, Tony Smith, also said he’d been watching the situation through the night.

&uot;I was really worried, but it worked out for the best,&uot; said Smith. &uot;I think it was handled real well.&uot;

Sonya Jordan, Skinner’s sister, lives on Kissimmee Avenue in the Orlando neighborhood. She came to the scene about one-half hour after the incident began. She also noted that she has, for some time, been aware of the problems between Skinner and his girlfriend.

&uot;He’s a good boy and I think that things just got out of control,&uot; said Jordan. &uot;When you’ve had enough, you’ve had enough. The circumstances of the situation…It will have to be handled in court.&uot;

According to Skinner’s uncle, Gary Skinner, the relationship is difficult to understand. He said Skinner would keep going back to his girlfriend because of his son,

&uot;He’s a good guy, but he just couldn’t stand being pushed,&uot; said the uncle. &uot;He’s got a temper and he doesn’t like being pushed and this girl is the only one I know that he’s fighting with. She’s the one who brought the charges against him in the first place. They broke up and got back together a hundred times, and he’s just tired of it.&uot;

Skinner was taken into custody shortly after 10:30 a.m., following a fourth round of tear gas &uot;bombs&uot; fired into the Jackson Street home. He was taken immediately to Obici Hospital where he was checked out for any type of injury, including dehydration. He was inside the non-air conditioned two story home for more than 12 hours.

The sun also took its toll upon Suffolk police officers and the Chesapeake Swat Team; all attired in heavy protective gear and bullet proof vests. They, too, were in danger of dehydration as they held their positions while they waited out the suspect in the hot, humid conditions.