A Kenyan nurse was on Tuesday stabbed to death in North Carolina, United States, while discharging her duties at a mental health care centre.
June Onkundi, who hailed from Kisii County and was working as a nurse practitioner in Durham City, met her death after she was attacked with a knife by a mentally deranged patient she was taking care of, killing her on the spot.
Police later arrived and took the suspect into custody.
The suspected murderer, James Gomes, 47, who was described by local TV stations as a serial criminal who has allegedly spent more than half of his life in prison, is said to have been released recently after serving time in jail for other criminal violations.
A local TV in Raleigh, ABC 11, described the deceased as, “mother, wife, sister, cousin and a psychiatric nurse practitioner, Jane Onkundi was the epitome of love, taken too soon while doing exactly what she loved.”
“For us as family members, it is very painful we are saddened that the same very population she had the passion and desire to help is the one that finally took her away from us and left us now grieving with four children and a husband,” said Andrew Nyabwari, a brother-in-law to the slain nurse.
The incident happened at a psychiatric centre known as Freedom House Recovery Center where police were called to intervene on an emergency but arrived to find the Kenyan nurse already killed.
“I am confused because a place of work is supposed to provide safety mechanisms for the staff members to be safe just to make sure another family member does not go through the pain that we are going through today,” said Mr Nyabwari.
The deceased who had a Master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing was about to commence her PhD program at Duke University, a leading institution of higher learning in North America.
A nurse practitioner in the US is an assistant doctor who is certified to prescribe medicine and carry out medical diagnosis.
Serial misogynistic criminal
WRAL TV station described Mr Gomes as a misogynist and incorrigible criminal who had been charged previously for targeting women in the area.
“The suspect has a history of attacking women,” said Sarah Kruger, a reporter with the TV station in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The reporter said court records showed that Mr Gomes had spent more than a third of his life in prison.
“Each time he gets out of prison, it’s a matter of mere months before he gets back behind bars again. Gomes was convicted in 2006 of attempted rape and kidnapping,” said Ms Kruger quoting government and court records on TV.
Authorities in North Carolina said that while working as a janitor at a local elementary school, Mr Gomes was arrested for attempting to rape his co-worker with a knife threatening to slit her throat.
Authorities further revealed that Gomes was released from prison in 2018. However, nine months later, the suspect was charged with and convicted of kidnapping and assaulting a woman by strangulation.
The suspect was released from prison four months ago, according to court records, leading to his latest crime of murder.
Fellow nurses expressed outrage at the killing demanding answers from the authorities over the killing and calling for more safety measures at their work places.
The murder has sent shockwaves across the United States where a large number of Kenyan immigrants earn their living through nursing.
North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA) demanded authorities to explain the safety gaps leading to the killing of the nurse practitioner.
Kenyans on Social Media condemned the killing and urged their compatriots working in the mental health sector to exercise caution.