Kamara July’s last call
WHEN Paula Henry got a call minutes to eight from her cousin Kamara ‘Camille’ July last Friday night, she was still so upset from a quarrel they had on Monday about money that she ignored the call.
Little did Henry know that that was the last time July would ever ring her phone. At the time of the call, July had just received a bullet to her upper body while sitting in the front seat of a Toyota Hiace minibus on Maxfied Avenue, on her way to downtown Kingston.
The bullet fired from outside the bus during a robbery attempt struck July in the upper body and she frantically called Henry but when there was no answer, she called her best friend breathing heavily while she bled to death in the passenger vehicle.
“Lady, is true you don’t know,” Henry said as she wailed with pain.
“If mi did only know! She call me, and me neva answer her,” she sobbed. “From Monday mi and her have argument over money and mi run her from mi and everytime she call mi don’t answer her. But is when she get shot she call me, because as she hang up she call her best friend and all she hear was her breathing short. All she (best friend) saying ‘Camille’, ‘Camille’ she wouldn’t answer.”
Henry said now she would never know if her cousin wanted to make peace with her before she died.
Not only has July’s murder been hard on Henry but other family members and those she was close to are also grieving.
When the Observer visited the location where July, who was a higgler, once peddled her wares on Princess Street in downtown Kingston, we were 10 minutes short of seeing her mother Angela Thomas who fainted, being wheeled off to the Kingston Public Hospital as the news of her daughter’s death became too much for her to bear.
According to other higglers, Thomas was trying desperately to deal with the situation but fainted in the early afternoon. The abandoned cabbages, onions and escallion were still wrapped in bags and tarpaulins on the stall, indicative of the fact that they were unattended to all day.
“We just see she start shake and then she just passed out,” one higgler said. “She has high blood pressure and she just could not handle it.”
According to 18-year-old Jemar Lee, brother of the deceased, his 24-year-old sister grew up in the market and was selling there for most of her life.
“She has been selling since she was a child,” Lee said clutching onto his cart. “Even when she used to go to school she would come down here. Is here she grow. Usually on a Friday night she would come to Curry (Coronation Market) and buy goods to sell Saturday so she would sleep over down here,” he said. “Is a case where unfortunately she was in the wrong bus at the wrong time. From what I hear they were shooting at the driver and she is the one who got shot.”
As he desperately fought to hold back the tears, Lee recalled the last time he saw his sister in their Seaview home Friday morning.
“I was pissed at her for something she did,” he said, “And she said I was to leave her alone. And so I went back to sleep,” he said with a slight smile. “So it’s not like we had up each other or anything like that. At times she can be hostile, but she was very caring and considerate. She was always trying to assist people.”
While he is hurt by her death, Lee said he is extremely angry with her killers.
“Right now to tell the truth I am so angry with the men who killed her. I just pray father God don’t let me know is who,” he said.
Lee said when news of the death reached July’s 10-year-old daughter Dammela Brown, she immediately had an asthma attack.
“I had to hold her in my arms and tried to blow in her nostrils because she was breathing short and I had to tell her everything was going to be OK,” he recalled. The child, who stood listening to her uncle, seemed to have distanced herself from the situation.
July, who was born on July 25, died leaving two children aged five and 10. According to her brother, July had just given her life to the Lord only two months ago, making her the first and only one in her family to have done so.