Terror worsens

Armed intruder, believed to be a squatter, attacks householders in hurricane-ravaged Caribbean Terrace

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

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The fear that has gripped legitimate residents of Caribbean Terrace in recent months, because of their unwanted neighbours, turned into a nightmare last Friday when a family was attacked in their house by an armed man believed to be one of the squatters.

The family's domestic helper was cut several times by the intruder as she tried to prevent him from entering the house, where he attacked a female resident in her bed and escaped with a bag containing more than $50,000 and a cellular phone.

“I live here 41 years and I have never been afraid in this house, even after the hurricanes which damaged several houses and the invasion of the squatters. But I sat on my verandah last Saturday and the leaves blow and I was afraid.

“I drove up to the house yesterday (Monday) and just to open the gate I was afraid. My daughter, who was not at home at the time of the attack, they had to call me at school to get her yesterday as she just sat down and started crying. Every time I close my eyes I just see this boy stabbing after me,” said Natalie White as she shared details of the family's ordeal.

White said the drama started shortly after 9:00 pm when the domestic helper, “Shelly”, reported that she saw someone peeping into the house and looking at her teenage daughter.

Minutes later Shelly pulled the grill at the back of the house to continue her domestic duties and was attacked by a man, armed with a knife, who had gained access to the premises through a gully at the back with overgrown shrubs.

“I was on the phone when Shelly called out my name. Then I heard a man call out my name as he entered my bedroom. By the time I looked up, him slash after me with a knife and say 'weh the money deh? Give me the money',” White told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“I was sitting on the bed and my six-year-old son was sleeping beside me. I don't know how I got up, but I jumped up and moved to the corner screaming. But I was very hoarse so the scream was not clear, and him continued to stab after me until him see the purse on the bed,” she said.

“I was so happy that him see the purse and him grab up it and the phone and ran out. I checked to see if my son was okay and then I banged on my brother's door because he was sleeping,” added White, who received minor wounds on her leg and hand.

She said minutes later, Shelly came into the house and collapsed on the floor bleeding mainly from her hands.

“Shelly said she opened the grill and went outside when the boy came out of the dark and said, 'You know what me come for, weh the money deh?” and started stabbing at her. Shelly said she felt none of the cuts until she came inside and saw the blood.

“She said, 'Ms White, you couldn't take the stab them so me couldn't make him come in there like that'. She told her daughter to run but because her daughter saw her bleeding, the child didn't want to leave, so she had to push her out the gate before she come inside, but by that time the boy gone,” said White.

According to White, despite being injured, Shelly tried to go after the attacker but by then he was seen heading towards the beach where scores of damaged, abandoned buildings have been occupied by more than 100 squatters.

White's brother Marlon, who had been sleeping at the time of the attack, is in pain as he struggles to deal with the fact that he was unable to defend his family and employee at the time of the attack.

“If you don't have a safe sanctuary then what else do you have? If you are not safe in your own home, then what else is there?” he asked. “As taxpayers that is the least you should expect.”

He noted that a police team was quick on the scene after they were called but they opted to take Shelly for emergency medical treatment rather than chase after the invader.

Now Marlon wants urgent attention paid to the squatters who live in the houses which were battered and bruised by hurricanes Ivan in 2004 and Dean in 2007, before they were abandoned by their owners.

“I think it has been a combination of neglect by the authorities. The two administrations have left the remaining residents here in limbo. Caribbean Terrace is still a beautiful, vibrant community but we need to know what is going to happen to the squatters,” he said.

“No disrespect to the decent persons among the squatters, but the problem is, this is people's homes that they have worked hard for, and it is heartbreaking to see squatters taking over. It is either that the Government is going to knock down the abandoned buildings or fill them with concrete so that nobody can live in them, and they would act as a buffer from the sea,” he argued.


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