Quadruple murder leaves peaceful community in shock
A SIX-year-old boy prances around and plays on a computer tablet at a yard in the Monymusk Housing Scheme in Clarendon, seemingly oblivious to Wednesday night's tragedy that has robbed him of his father, after gunmen snuffed out the life of Marquis Hamilton, 35, and three teenage boys, execution-style, at the front of his yard.
The teenagers who lost their lives in the incident are 14-year-old Raymond Givans, a student of the Vere Technical High; Ricardo Briscoe, also 14 years old, of Garvey Maceo High; and 16-year-old Alex Turner of Central High.
All four were found lying face down with gunshot wounds to their heads.
A resident, who declined to be identified, said the usually quiet and peaceful community will never be the same again.
"You know, there are some communities in some parishes that are known for violence. Monymusk Housing scheme wasn't one of them. These three boys that died were decent children. This community will never be the same again after all this," she said, shaking her head in disbelief.
Later in the day, Hamilton's brother arrived at the home where bloodstains could still be seen on the grass. He hurriedly called his six-year-old nephew, who was still playing, and lifted the child, embracing him. It was perhaps then that the reality of the tragedy began to dawn on the boy as tears trickled down his cheeks.
Karen White, Hamilton's partner, is devastated. She wept bitterly yesterday when The Gleaner visited her home - the scene of the quadruple murder.
She told The Gleaner that her child's father, who worked as a payroll clerk at the Monymusk Sugar Factory in Clarendon, did not seek to harm anyone.
"Mi son don't have a father and I don't have anybody now," she lamented.
While the Hamilton's relatives turned up in their numbers at the home, Ann Marie Briscoe, Ricardo's mother, could not be consoled. If her son were alive, he would have celebrated his 15th birthday today.
Mrs Briscoe said Ricardo, the third of her five children, was the apple of her eye. She wailed inconsolably as she recalled the pain and suffering she endured to give birth to him.
"Oh, God! I never know I would affi bury one a mi pickney," she said between sobs.
She described her son as a quiet and loving child, who, like any other, had his ups and downs as a teenager.
"I never expected this. He was just coming home to his mother, now him gone lef mi."
Mrs Briscoe said he and another of the murder victims - Raymond Givans - were very close.
"They were very good friends. They eat together, play together, they even sleep together. There's no way we could separate both of them, honestly. Phillip (as he is also called), even hide RayJay (Givans) under di bed just fi him sleep over so that he could stay with him. Anywhere you saw one, the other was always near."
Ricardo's aunt, Sandra Murray, a bus driver, has been working with children for the last 18 years and said she takes him to and from school every day, but never expected this.
"I don't know why they [are] doing children like this, our future of tomorrow. I just can't believe this," she said, with tears rolling down her cheeks.
Janet Turner is Alex's elder sister. She said her little brother was the jovial type who loved to play.
"Him always a laugh. Alex is just a fun-loving and nice person," Janet told The Gleaner.
She said he was on his way home from the gym with friends when tragedy struck.
"Mi cyaa even explain how hurt and devastated we are right now. A mi one likkle bredda pan mi father side. Him not even live no life yet. Him 16th birthday just gone Sunday, April 12, and him life just tek weh from him like dat," Janet said.
She said Alex was doing fairly well in school and was even recommended to do two Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects, even though he was just in grade 10 at Central High School. He was also a part of the school's Cadet Corps and the athletics team.
Yesterday, Dr Henrietta Stewart, principal of the Vere Technical High School, was kept busy all morning, trying to comfort Raymond Givans' classmates. She said the entire school was distraught but more so the grade 9C students, who shared classes with Givans.
"They are really devastated because he was a child that was loved by everyone and you can see that his classmates miss him tremendously. They haven't stopped crying since they have been to school since morning."
Stewart said she, too, had to take a moment to compose herself when she got the news of the tragedy. "I was like no, not Vere again," she said.
Grief counsellors, as well as guidance counsellors from Ministry of Education schools, gathered all his classmates in the school library, where they were allowed to grieve.
"There is no calm yet to the situation. The children are torn apart especially because of the way the child was murdered. Other guidance counsellors also stopped by to lend their support," Stewart told The Gleaner.