Everybody 'fraid

Regional

Everybody 'fraid

Brazen murder in Burton Town leaves residents puzzled and scared

BY GARFIELD MYERS
Editor-at-large
South/Central Bureau

Monday, March 23, 2020

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SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — Residents of tight-knit Burton Town, in remote Rose Hall, on the steep slopes below Malvern in the Santa Cruz Mountains, freely confess they are afraid.

“Everybody coward, 'fraid,” said one female resident as she and others declined to be identified or to have their pictures taken when the Jamaica Observer Central visited last Thursday afternoon.

As she put it, in all her “50-odd years” she had never heard of anything in her community as terrifying as occurred on the night of Monday, March 16, when her nephew, 35-year-old farmer Dervin Powell, was shot dead and two other people, including a woman, shot and injured.

The injured woman is out of hospital with a wound to her foot. The injured man was in hospital up to the weekend, nursing bullet wounds across his face and to his hand.

In one of several yards, nestled close together and approached from the road by a narrow, winding, and stony trail, the woman's young male relative, whom we will call John, told the horrible story in low matter-of-fact tones.

He pointed the Observer team to a tree around which a small group of relatives and friends had sat and stood, drinking rum and listening to music.

Suddenly, he said, they realised two gunmen were among them.

He remembers the exact time “one minute past nine” at night.

One gunman ordered him to go face down on the ground. John hit the ground so hard he badly scraped his left knee on the broken concrete. The gunman stood over him with the weapon pointed at his head.

On the ground, John said he heard Powell, who was leaning against the tree, say “Officer, after mi nuh do nutten, after I a nuh wrongdoer…”

Those words were the last from Powell, for according to John, the gunman hovering over him immediately lifted his weapon and shot Powell, who fell forward on his face, dead.

The killer then resumed his previous posture, pointing the gun at John's head.

By then, the injured man, now in hospital, had been shot by the second gunman and was running. Amazingly, for locals, the injured man was chased by the second gunman, in the dark, through a rough, tortuous trail and into a nearby hill.

Locals say the injured man fell into a hole and stayed there and was aware of the second gunman coming “on top of the hole” but not seeing his intended victim. The would-be killer eventually turned back.

John told how the injured woman, on hearing the gunshots and uproar, cracked open the door of the nearby house and was promptly shot in the foot by the killer hovering over him.

The killer then ran and smashed a light bulb that was shining outside the house.

After the second gunman returned from his fruitless chase of the injured man, the two left. But not before a final word of advice for John from the killer: “Go s..k yuh madda, bwoy, and anything yuh see yah, mek it stay yah.”

For locals and visitors alike, an immediate question was how the gunmen could have been so sure-footed in the dark, to not only find the small group, but for one gunman to chase a running man deep into bushes.

They showed the Observer team dark blood stains on a concrete area, lasting testimony to the injured man's run for his life.

“It mus' be dat dem (gunmen) know di area,” said one person to general agreement.

The larger question of why they came to kill remained unanswered.

“We don't know,” said the woman who had declined to be identified, “that's what everybody asking. Every day police come asking questions.”

For John, it is clear the gunmen had specific targets. “Dem didn't want me,” he said, “and another yute run when dem come and dem don't even look pon him.”

TURN HEADLINE:

Burton Town residents 'don't know why' killers came to their community


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