On Monday 23 January, shortly after 3pm, the regular din of children turning out of the Capital Academy secondary school in north-west London was interrupted by a sudden hush. “All the kids were running around like usual,” said one neighbour. “But then it just went quiet. I got up to draw the curtains and saw kids running away, screaming.”
Quamari Barnes, a 15-year-old student, had been stabbed several times. He fell just yards from the school gate. A woman cradled him in her arms as paramedics rushed to the scene before whisking Quamari away to hospital.
By most accounts, Quamari danced to the beat of his own drum. As a precocious child, he held court in conversations with adults from an early age; by his teens, he could cook a full Sunday roast on his own. When he was younger, he had no problem being the only boy in his dance class; as a teenager, while his friends were into grime and rap, he went old-school – Bob Marley, Dennis Brown and Aswad.
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