Mon | Jan 25, 2021

‘Why me, Lord?’ - Dover grapples with grief after gunmen kill four, injure five

Published:Thursday | December 12, 2019 | 12:00 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer
Ryan Duncan bawls as he looks at the community Cash Pot shop where two persons were gunned down as they played a board game in Dover, St Catherine. “Me feel it to me heart … . We traumatised. We nuh know weh it a come from,” he told The Gleaner. “All now me nuh sleep. We scared a di road.”
Pauline Smith (foreground) is consoled by friend Antonette Roper in Dover on Wednesday. Smith’s daughter, Patricia King, was one of four fatalities in the Tuesday night attack.

Pauline Smith was a shadow of herself yesterday, crippled with grief at the loss of her daughter, 42-year-old bartender Patricia King, who has left behind two sons.

“Why me, Lord? No, sah, not me. They took her from me. This is not right,” she said, wandering off in bewilderment.

Smith’s friend, Antonette Roper, who sought to console, began to gasp for breath as she was overcome with emotion.

Between sobs, she told The Gleaner that the four residents who were shot dead by gunmen in the sleepy farming district of Dover, St Catherine, were productive members of the community, some, breadwinners to their families.

“This is where we hang out to enjoy ourselves. We always say Dover is a perfect place because we don’t have crime and violence. We always look out for each other,” Roper said.

The rural St Catherine hamlet, located near Kitson Town, was awash with grief on Wednesday morning in the wake of the tragedy that unfolded the night before as nine persons were shot by gunmen who sprayed separate locations less than 50 metres apart in the community square.

Games turn to gloom

Four of the five injured were admitted to the Spanish Town Hospital and one was treated and released.

The shooting, which occurred about 10 p.m. on Tuesday while residents enjoyed the ritual of dominoes and board games, has cast an atmosphere of gloom over the community of peasant farmers and small-scale shop operators.

Besides King, the other deceased have been identified as 68-year-old Glen Grange, farmer; 40-year-old Dennis Pryce, farmer; and 42-year-old Marcus White.

Dennis Pryce Jr, whose father was among the casualties, said he was standing in front of the bar when the three men approached. He said two of the men went over to the gaming shop and started firing while the other targeted patrons in the bar.

“After mi hear the first shot, mi jump down the bar step and run round the corner, and the man start shooting after mi,” he told The Gleaner, adding that he ran around the back of the premises and hid in bushes.

“The one who was shooting up the bar see mi run and came after me firing shots, but none catch mi,” he continued

Pryce said the gunman walked past his hiding place with a weapon in his hand before joining the other attackers who fled by car.

Kenroy Green, owner of the bar where White and King lost their lives, said he had just left the bar 10 minutes before the shooting erupted.

“Patricia is like a sister to me. Right now, I am in a permanent state of shock,” he said.

“I am going to close this bar. The effect of this shooting is that I cannot operate this business anymore. Nobody will want to drink at a place where our friends died,” he said.

Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner of Police Gary Griffiths told The Gleaner that the shooting was a reprisal for an incident that occurred well beyond Dover, a narrative that dovetails with National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang’s characterisation of the attack as gang related.

“This is indeed a tragic event that has unfolded in this peaceful community. We have very strong leads, and we will actively be pursuing these leads,” Griffiths said.