News

St Bess farmer killed, husband injured

BY GARFIELD MYERS Editor-at-large South/Central Bureau myersg@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, September 24, 2012    

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SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — Gunmen disrupted the peace and quiet of the farming community of Tryall, adjacent to Ballards Valley, in South East St Elizabeth late Saturday leaving a woman dead and her husband nursing injuries.

The dead woman has been identified by police as Hopie Powell, a farmer and vendor of Tryall, who relatives said would have celebrated her 41st birthday yesterday. Her injured husband, Steve Powell, 45, also a farmer and vendor, was hospitalised, treated and later released.

Police reports are that the two had returned home in their pickup van from the Claremont market in St Ann — where they have been doing business for years — when they saw men in their yard.

Powell attempted to reverse the vehicle, but the gunmen opened fire hitting his wife in the abdomen and chest, while he was shot in the region of the mouth.

Police say an undisclosed sum of money was taken from the couple.

Relatives placed the amount of cash taken by the robbers at over $100,000. They told the Jamaica Observer that had an adopted child had been left with neighbours for the period the Powells were away and there was no one at home.

Earlier in the evening, the Powells had reportedly called relatives to enter their house and turn on the lights — which was done.

A niece (name withheld) told the Observer by telephone that the Powells had "dropped off" a cousin and a niece who had travelled with them from Brown's Town in St Ann, before driving into their yard at about 10.30pm.

They reportedly saw a man standing in the shadows and Powell cried out to her husband "see a man there so".

Relatives and neighbours suspect that a "strange car" which had been seen parked in the vicinity earlier in the day may have been used by the gunmen. They say the car aroused no suspicion because it was parked in a private driveway.

"I have never heard of an incident like this in Tryall," the grieving niece said.

Councillor for the Junction Division, Cetany Holness, described the Powells as "hard-working, law-abiding citizens". Holness said the latest atrocity provided more evidence of the need for communities and the police to come together to fight a rising tide of criminality in St Elizabeth.

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