Thu | Feb 27, 2020

Woman loses third relative to gun violence

Published:Wednesday | January 22, 2020 | 12:26 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Police personnel on the scene of the shooting death of 18-year-old Lavern Edwards on Escarpment Road, August Town, yesterday.
Jerome Vidal, affectionately called ‘Erica’, speaking yesterday about the shooting death of 18-year-old Lavern Edwards on Escarpment Road, August Town.
Lavern Edwards

Jerome ‘Erica’ Vidal could not hold back the tears.

Reeling from pain she knows too well, the Hermitage resident tried to come to grips yesterday with the tragedy of losing a third relative to crime.

Two of those deaths were the result of gang ­war in the ­violence-plagued community of August Town.

Her nephew, Lavern ‘Tonguie’ Edwards, 18, was gunned down yesterday, and her son, 19-year-old son Jerome Edwards died at the hands of gunmen in 2007.

Edwards, who would have celebrated his 19th birthday on February 1, was ambushed and shot nine times shortly after 10 a.m. at his home on Escarpment Road.

Vidal also lost her daughter, 22-year-old Sherice Martin, to a bullet in Montego Bay in 2017.

“Oh, God! Unnu nuh know weh mi a go tru. If unnu know weh mi a go tru, unnu will understand . … Mi tired of the foolishness!” Vidal told The Gleaner at her yard, with her belly tied with a cloth.

Simmering violence has been fuelled by warring factions from Gold-smith Villa and Hermitage, The Gleaner understands.

Edwards is the latest victim in a series of violent incidents, as a man was injured during a gunfight between thugs on Sunday, which followed a shooting incident two days prior.

The Gleaner reported on Monday that the security forces were keeping a close watch on the east St Andrew neighbourhood following a death outside the community and a subsequent shooting just before the start of the New Year.


“Mi have a house there (Hermitage) and a house here (Goldsmith Villa). Two sides, mi nuh cut sides, am a peaceful woman. When anything mi always go there and say nothing nuh go so just leave it alone. Mi a di only lady in the community lose a son and a daughter to gun violence,” Vidal told The Gleaner.

She described her nephew as “soft”, claiming he could not hurt a fly.

His father was too grief stricken to speak.

Venesha Phillips, councillor for the Papine division, in a previous interview, admitted to The Gleaner that the unity forged last September was under threat. That camaraderie was triggered when residents banded together, crossing turf boundaries marked in blood, in a frenetic search for Kyle Richards, a nine-year-old boy swept away by floodwaters. His body was later found.

Phillips had said last week that she hoped that the eastern St Andrew community would have cause for celebration as it did in 2016, when not a single murder was committed there.

Yesterday’s murder, however, dashed those hopes.