Last handshake

Last handshake

Father regrets son didn't give his life to God before dying in hail of bullets

Thursday, October 29, 2020

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LESS than 24 hours after Linlee Thomas encouraged his son Jason to give his life to God, the younger Thomas was gunned down at a domino table in Southborough, Portmore, St Catherine, on Tuesday night.

Today, the elder Thomas's main regret is that Jason died without surrendering to the Lord.

“We all haffi dead, but is how you dead. You must have God inside yuh. Mi tell him yesterday, and mi beg him night and day fi turn over him life to God,” the bereaved 70-year-old father told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Possessing a stoic demeanour, the elderly man explained that he had just come from the country the day prior to visit his son and grandchildren. He said he greeted the father of three with a handshake moments before he was killed.

“When mi see him yesterday, him a try thump mi fist, and mi tell him, 'No, shake yuh father hand.' After him shake mi hand and him leave out, about a hour after, mi hear the shot dem and mi hear say him dead.

“Is today [yesterday] I was planning to come [to visit], but mi come from yesterday because God know what was going to happen,” Thomas said.

When the Observer visited the area yesterday, domino pieces scattered under a street light were remnants of the previous night's shooting. Residents explained that what should have been a usual evening lime turned into tragedy when four unknown assailants crept up on a group of friends and opened gunfire, injuring five people and killing two.

Dead are Jason, who was 40 years old and also known as Muscle, and 27-year-old Odaine Jones, also called Fancy Cat.

Reggae Boyz player Maalique Foster was among those injured and is now recuperating at hospital.

Members of the close-knit community were still in shock as they gathered outside their houses to console each other and mourn the loss of the two men yesterday.

“Dem a some youth weh mi love, as a big man, because dem show mi love, especially Mr Thomas,” a 54-year-old, who survived the ordeal with just a graze to his leg, said.

He insisted that his friends were not involved in any criminal activities, and that Thomas was a known community organiser who looked out for young people.

“Him always try fi bring back the love. Him put on likkle football, six-a-side; him put on domino tournament; him keep treat for di youths dem. Is a man who we all love.

“The community lose two good loved ones who were very vital in the place. So right now we in mourning, mourning,” his eyes welling up with tears.

Michelle Stewart, a close friend of Jones, said she was inside her house preparing an egg sandwich for the young man moments before he was killed.

“Right now the egg still inna di pot inside,” said Stewart, who was wearing a jacket belonging to the 27-year-old. “He was a very nice, loving youth. Him nuh fi dead.”

People's National Party caretaker for St Catherine East Central Raymond Pryce joined residents in consoling family members, pointing out that Thomas's death was a significant loss for the community.

“In this community, right where we are standing, you would usually hear music, laughter, and movement of children. And so, this silence is deafening, and it confirms the significance of the loss of Jason.

“Attention first goes to the family who has lost a father, son, and brother. I know he has children, one who recently started high school. Like with any loss of a loved one, the tragedy is extreme. So my condolences are with the family, first and foremost,” said Pryce.

Meanwhile, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Clive Blair, who is in charge of the investigations into the incident, told the Observer that several leads are being followed, including one of the incident being possibly related to a gang-related feud.

“This community, especially this side of Southborough, hasn't had any gang activity in a long time. It is rather shocking to know that this happened, so we have to get to the bottom of it.

“It could have been worse. Thank God it's not seven persons dead,” said the SSP.


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