BY COREY ROBINSON Sunday Observer staff reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
THE Marine Park Community in Portmore, St Catherine, was still shell-shocked yesterday, following Friday night's brutal murder of Special Constable Ariana Henry of the Harman Barracks.
Henry, 23, was shot at her gate in what her uncle, Victor Williams, described as a shoot-out with gunmen shortly after 8:00 Friday. She had been a member of the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF) for three years, he said.
Williams, who was at home with Henry and her mother on Friday night, said the young cop met her death minutes after she went outside to speak with a visiting male colleague.
The colleague, Williams said, parked outside Henry's gate on Darien Drive, and as they stood talking, a dark-coloured Toyota Corolla motorcar drove up with her killers aboard. Williams said that one of the occupants immediately sprung from the car and started shooting. That's when Henry's colleague responded, firing back at their attacker, he explained.
But the damage had already been done. "She was shot in the abdomen. They said that her liver and a main artery that carries blood to the heart were also damaged," he said, relaying an unofficial report from doctors who tried to save his niece.
One of Henry's attackers was also shot in the abdomen, Williams added. He dropped his weapon — a Bryco Arms 9 mm pistol, police later said — and limped toward the slow-moving getaway car.
No one knows the extent of his injuries, but residents reported seeing the gunman's legs hanging from the vehicle as it sped from the crime scene, its headlamps off.
Police said he later turned up for treatment at the same hospital where Henry was taken. He was identified and arrested.
Williams said that he and Henry's mother stood nervously behind their fence as the events unfolded. It was not clear whether Henry's colleague fired at the gunmen's car, but as other residents gingerly left their houses to investigate, all attention turned to the injured Henry, Williams explained.
Maybe if the car belonging to Henry's colleague did not run out of fuel as it darted to the Spanish Town Hospital, the situation would have ended differently. However, Williams was glad yesterday that he had decided to drive behind it.
His niece had to be placed into his vehicle en route to the hospital.
"When we got there she was still alive, so she had a fighting chance," he said. "I feel cut up because it was senseless. She was a very quiet and enterprising individual, and she was also pursuing a degree at university."
Since Friday, Henry's mother had not returned to the house where her daughter had been living "on and off" for over a year. Williams said the mother was deeply traumatised.
"She is not doing so well," he said, adding that he has been trying to comfort her with Bible scriptures.
Yesterday, Police Commissioner Owen Ellington condemned the cop's killing and directed investigators in the St Catherine South Police Division to move with alacrity to find the other persons involved.
He said Henry's murder was another effort by criminals to drive fear into police officers, but warned that such efforts would only work to the contrary.
No patrol vehicles were observed while the Jamaica Observer news team was in the community, and that offered little comfort to the obviously shaken residents.
One shopkeeper and one of Henry's female neighbours said that they have not slept since the incident. "It is so bad, so bad. We had another shooting on the 20th of July and now this," the shopkeeper said, fearing that her community was deteriorating into a crime hotspot.
According to Henry's uncle, it appeared that the gunmen had set out to rob their victims. Residents, however, speculated that Henry's colleague may have been trailed, and that he may have been the target of the cowardly attack.