Thu | Jul 9, 2020

Brothers’ killings add to August Town woes

Published:Thursday | June 4, 2020 | 12:27 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Jamaica Defence Force soldiers stand near the bloodstained ground where the body of one of two brothers shot and killed by gunmen was found along Payton Place in August Town on Wednesday.
Jamaica Defence Force soldiers stand near the bloodstained ground where the body of one of two brothers shot and killed by gunmen was found along Payton Place in August Town on Wednesday.

Awakened by explosions and screams in August Town on Wednesday morning, Hyacinth Brown’s* memories rolled back to the 2018 death of her grandson and she wondered if gunmen had made good on their promise to return for blood.

When the shooting subsided and the screams got louder, Brown knew that something was wrong. She took a deep breath and went out to look.

At her Payton Place gate lay a motionless body. Another was in her backyard.

Those were the bodies of brothers Demar Francis, 36, and Robert Clarke, 25, both Brown’s in-laws.

“Why dem do it? Why dem do it? Everybody supposed to live right and live good. Why dem mash up the community?” Brown, a 30-year resident of August Town, told The Gleaner.

“Round here used to be a good place. I just don’t know what is going on.”

Francis was reportedly an upholsterer while Clarke reared goats.

The yard is now wholly occupied by females, with the men being killed one by one.

“From dem kill my cousin 2018 right at the gate deh so, mi fraid and a look out for this,” a female resident, who requested anonymity because of security concerns, said. “From dem kill him, mi sister and aunty move out. My cousin a do CXC, and I don’t know if she a go focus.”

Fayval Williams, St Andrew Eastern member of parliament who represents August Town, is concerned about the wanton killings in the violence-plagued neighbourhood.

“They always lead to reprisals,” Williams said of the double killing. “So the people are fully expecting to hear something else tonight, tomorrow morning. They don’t know what time of day or night it’s going to strike, and that’s what causes the fear in people.”

The parliamentary representative lamented the psychological toll the never-ending violence was having on residents, particularly on “children who are home hearing these gunshots”.

Williams is imploring the residents, however, not to give up as peace was worth fighting for.

“I can’t imagine growing up in a community where gunshots are just the order of the day, order of the night ... . I would like to tell the residents, do not get weary,” Williams told The Gleaner.

“I know that the violence has been going on for a while, but I also do know that they are many institutions that have come in over the years to help,” Williams told The Gleaner.

Up to May 30, Jamaica had recorded 550 murders, three fewer than the toll for 2019 over the corresponding period.

* Real name changed

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com