'A very dark day' - JCF mourns killing of two cops
Only days before hoodlums snuffed out his life, Constable Craig Palmer had been in his community in Poor Man's Corner, St Thomas, memorialising the death of his beloved sister, who passed on exactly one year ago.
It was on Saturday that the young cop, known as 'Junior' in the community, sat with family, friends and loved ones, who had gathered to remember Alcia St House, who died a year ago after ailing for some time.
Craig's mother, Beverly Palmer, affectionately called 'Babsy', was also in Poor Man's Corner in St Thomas at the family home where her daughter's life was being honoured.
Three day's later, the mother was at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) hoping for the best when the worst happened.
Her younger child, who had sworn to serve and protect his fellowmen, died from bullet wounds he had received earlier at the hands of hoodlums.
Palmer, 35, is one of two policemen who were gunned down on Tuesday in St Thomas. The other is 52-year-old Corporal Kenneth Davis of the Protective Services Division.
Police have described the incident in which the cops were killed and a civilian wounded as a drive-by shooting.
Family members have echoed claims by Western St Thomas Member of Parliament James Robertson that Palmer had been receiving death threats.
A family member told The Gleaner that Palmer was instrumental in the death of one of two gunmen in the community, whom he disarmed during an attempted robbery a few years ago. The other hoodlum reportedly escaped.
Robertson charged that other police personnel in the parish have also been receiving threats.
The police have since listed Marlon Perry, otherwise called 'Duppy Film', as a person of interest in Tuesday's shooting. They say Duppy Film should immediately surrender and anyone knowing his whereabouts should contact them.
NOT A GOOD MONTH
Long-time family friend Keith Brown was also in St Thomas on Saturday to commemorate the memorial of Palmer's older sibling.
He said the area where Tuesday night's tragedy took place is only metres from where the family had assembled in sombre memory of Alcia.
"December is not a good month for that family, because it was on December 8 last year that Babsy lost her daughter, and now she has lost her son," lamented Brown.
He told The Gleaner that Palmer's death was a great shock, as both families had been quite close since 1974, when the policeman was a mere toddler.
At that time, they lived in Duhaney Park, St Andrew, until Babsy relocated to St Thomas.
Brown was still grappling with the news of Palmer's death when The Gleaner caught up with him, hours after the incident.
"I was at the memorial gathering on Saturday for Cia," he said. "Me feel a way to know that is a little man who me grow with," said Brown. "His family was like family to me."
He said it was Palmer's uncle, Devon Pinnock, who informed him of the death.
"When I called my sister, she was already at the KPH ... . She [confirmed] that he had passed."
Recounting the last conversation with her son, Palmer's mother said: "He came to the kitchen door and said, 'Mommy, what you cooking?' I told him that I'm tired so I will cook something light, and he said OK, and that he's going around the road for two shows to come watch, and I told him to hurry and come back before the meal gets cold.
"He said 'OK, mum. Mi soon come'," she said.
Babsy told The Gleaner that she later received a call asking if she had heard the gunshots.
"Mi seh no, because I'm in the kitchen. The person asked me where my son was, and I told her he just left. She told me to call him, and when I did, someone else answered and said that he was shot and carried to the hospital. When I arrived, they pronounced him dead," she said.
Beverly was a bit more stable than her husband, father of the deceased, as he cried by her side.
The Gleaner was told that Palmer died leaving behind three children, the youngest being a four-year-old daughter.
Equally devastated was wife of the late Davis, Joan Davis, and her household.
She struggled through tears to relate that her husband had been in the police force for more than 30 years.
"I don't know if he and anybody had anything (dispute), but he loves to socialise. I don't know where it (his murder) could have come from. I don't know if he was at the wrong place at the wrong time, but he was there. He came home early, slept, ate, and we watched a movie, then he got up, put on his shoes and his T-shirt and said he's going down the road and him soon come.
"Afterwards, someone came and told me that I need to go to the hospital. I heard that he got shot in his foot, but when I reached, I realised that it was a shot to his head," said the devastated widow.
Joan told The Gleaner that a chaplain visited the home and would be back to speak with the children.