Arnett Gardens shopkeeper shot multiple times - Mom of slain 14-y-o flees community
Worshippers at the Inner City for Christ Ministry in Arnett Gardens fell to the floor in fear as gunshots echoed outside the church in a daring gun attack late Tuesday night.
When the congregation wobbled to their feet and went outside, one man was discovered shot in what residents on 12th Street in the South St Andrew community claim was a reprisal attack for the murder of 14-year-old Yetanya 'Princess' Francis, who was raped and whose body was burnt in the church's open lot last Thursday.
Police said that the injured man, a shopkeeper, was shot multiple times by at least three thugs who ordered ganja before the shooting took place at about 9:30 p.m. They said that the gunmen made their escape on a section of 12th Street that has been without street lights for months.
According to the residents, the shopkeeper lived two doors down from Francis' home and was targeted because he was allegedly involved in a case of carnal abuse three years ago.
Police, however, could not confirm the allegations, even as they took a man into custody for questioning about the rape case and patrolled the area, hoping to calm fearful residents.
"We over the church and hear the barrage of shots, and everybody just drop pon the ground and started praying. Then somebody called the police and told them that we are trapped over there. We didn't know where it coming from," recalled a female congregant.
"Is little bit afterward that we take time come out and we see the yellow tape. We never know that is right here it happened. So close," lamented the woman, pointing to the bloody shop from which the injured man was hurriedly hoisted after residents heard him calling out for help.
Yesterday, residents who gathered at the shop recounted how they darted from the area as the bullets exploded. One girl said she rolled off of her couch and curled up on the floor.
FEAR OF FURTHER REPRISALS
The incident has left many tense as rumours of further reprisals from the shopkeeper's relatives have spiralled.
Some residents pointed fingers at men from another section of the community who they say are trying to take the rape probe into their own hands.
Others speculated that Tuesday night's attack may be a decoy aimed at hiding the true perpetrators, while some, like Yetanya's mother, Latoya Riley, took the opportunity to flee the community last night.
"I just want it to be over and done so everything can go back to normal. Right now, is like everything is just tumbling down on me," said a distraught Riley, who spoke to The Gleaner by telephone.
Last Thursday, Riley was awoken by the smell of her daughter's burning flesh at about 10 p.m. The teen had reportedly left the house an hour earlier to purchase food before she went missing. A search was launched and her body found early Friday morning.
Yesterday, residents and the authorities marched through the community and offered counselling to traumatised persons. Groundsmen at the Inner City for Christ Ministry also spent the day bushing the ill-fated open lot and erecting lights.