Mission: Clarendon Rescue | Blood for blood! - Reprisals fuel Clarendon's murder carnage
"Me must kill Paul*," declared the tall dark-skinned man in a tone with no more emotion than the one he used to order a 'special' (one drink of white rum mixed with the energy drink Boom) a few minutes earlier.
"Do George*! No get youself in a no trouble. Memba you have a son and a daughter," responded the woman he had walked with into the bar a few minutes earlier.
The two were among a small group of mainly neighbours and friends having a drink in a quiet community metres from the Clarendon capital of May Pen, last Wednesday evening.
"Mary*, you can't tell me nothing, and nobody can't tell me nutten. Anytime me si Paul me a go kill him, and not even Jesus can't tell me don't do it," responded the man who I now figured was George, his voice getting louder with a scary level of conviction.
At that point, I figured I could intervene, particularly since he had already bought me a drink from what he said was his Cash Pot winnings.
"Why you think you have to kill him? Why you don't listen to the lady and don't get yourself in any trouble?" I asked.
"Paul kill me best friend just to get a hype and me friend no mek trouble. Him kill me friend and run weh but if a even police station me see him, me have fi kill him. Even if a the last breath me take," declared George, his voice now at shouting level.
Stabbed to death
In the face of his stated determination to commit murder, I became a little timid even as I asked: "So is what happened to your friend?" deliberately keeping my calm as I saw that he was beginning to get emotional.
That's when the woman told me the story of how Paul murdered their best friend, Mark*, in a Clarendon community last year before fleeing.
The story which emerged was that Mark was in a gambling house when he was approached by his daughter, who told him that his niece was again being beaten by her boyfriend, Paul.
"And him go down there and all him do is part them. Paul all thump him in him mouth and him just walk weh once him see that the woman nah get no more lick. And when him walk whey Paul just pull a long knife and rush him. Him a try chuck over a wall but Paul stab him in a him neck. Him dead pon the spot," Mary shared as she started crying.
"Mark is a man no mek trouble, and me a walk go check him when me see Paul a come with him clothes bloody and the knife in a him hand, and me say, 'a wha, a wha!' and him say 'me just stab the boy Mark', and when me run go down there me see Mark daughter a bawl and Mark dead pon the ground," added Mary, now barely audible as the tears flowed.
"Big man, you see that is why me must kill him," declared George, now drinking the white rum with nothing added.
"Is three days me no eat after him kill me friend. Me just a smoke the weed and a drink, and that's why me sure if me see him and no kill him, God must dead, and you know that can't happen.
"The man dem go fi bun down him house and me say no because me did want him fi come fi him things, but when me hear say a police a come fi dem, me light the house, and when the police and fire brigade come all a we tell them say a we do it," added George as he repeated his vow to kill Paul.
This bloody end to the simplest of domestic disputes and the quest for revenge are two big drivers of the crime figures in Clarendon, which recorded more than 130 murders last year, and the police are aware that it is an issue which needs to be addressed.
Major challenge for cops
While the number of domestic murders and reprisals recorded last year was not readily available, head of the Clarendon police, Superintendent Vendolyn Cameron-Powell, last week admitted that preventing the bloodletting in cases of domestic disputes and reprisals is a major challenge.
"It is really a cause for concern. Sometimes some very basic conflicts lead to major crimes," Cameron-Powell told Gleaner reporters and editors.
She noted that in many instances the police are not aware of the disputes until they boil over into deadly violence.
"We are working very hard to identify where the conflicts are, and to assist in fixing, as best as we can. When we don't know and the persons in the communities are aware, we want them to come forward and engage us rather than taking the law into their hands.
"I am inviting the gentleman you spoke to (George) to come forward and give a statement so we can try and fix this before you have reprisal here, reprisal there, because that would not be good for the community or the parish," added the superintendent.
But the work of the police is being compounded as even young children between the ages of six and 12 in sections of Clarendon are starting to live a life of revenge and reprisals.
"Children live what they learn, and if you are in an environment where everybody is preaching war and lick back the persons who lick you, don't take anybody lick, the children are going to want to do that," said Christine Russell-Lewin, guidance counsellor at Effortville Primary in the parish.
For the Clarendon police, the domestic violence and reprisals are major challenges they face, but Cameron-Powell is looking for a coalition of residents to help them to stem the bloodletting now and save the youngsters before they embark on a life of crime.
* Names changed