Wedding nightmare - Couple devastated by fatal shooting of close friend before their reception at Glistening Waters
Their wedding took years to plan and drained much of their savings, but what they expected to be one of the happiest days of their lives ended abruptly with a hail of bullets, even before the reception started.
Damian Davis and his wife, Asheika, had just exchanged vows and were taking pictures on a nearby lawn at the Glistening Waters Restaurant and Marina in Falmouth, Trelawny, when explosions echoed in the area designated for their reception, sending frantic guests scampering for cover.
When the explosions ended, Davis' best friend, 45-year-old Paul Campbell, lay dead, and a son of the operator of the restaurant, 38-year-old Earl Bernard of a Montego Bay, St James, address, was seen clutching a firearm, with blood running from a wound in the upper body.
The incident occurred on December 28, 2018, a date the couple will never forget.
Official police reports are that Campbell, who was playing music for the reception, was involved in an argument with owner of the premises, who repeatedly asked him to turn down the volume.
During the argument Bernard, the woman's son, intervened and reportedly pushed Campbell over a flower pot. Campbell then pulled his licensed firearm and shot Bernard in the neck. The injured man, who was also a licensed firearm holder, then pulled his weapon and shot Campbell repeatedly, killing him on the spot.
Bernard was taken to hospital and treated. He was reportedly released from hospital last Wednesday.
"It is really bad, and when I say really bad, I mean really bad. For me, I have to remain strong because my daughter and my wife, they are very distraught," Davis told The Sunday Gleaner last Friday as he recounted Campbell's close relationship with his family.
"My wife is supposed to be at work today and she can't even manage to go. For myself, I have to be at work every day to sort of keep my mind preoccupied. But once I leave work, everything just comes back," added Davis.
Loving Father of Five
He described Campbell as his best friend and said that Campbell was a kind, loving father of five and business owner who not even close friends knew he had a licensed firearm over the past two years.
"He has never left my side. When I wrote the wedding vows, I gave it to him, and he is the person who went through it and edited it. For us, every year December 28 is going to be more of a remembrance, a day of pain every year going forward," said Davis.
"Whenever I think of anniversary, I'm going to be thinking about where we got married, what happened on the day, and that I lost my best friend on the day. He was not only a friend to me but also a friend to my family," added Davis, who said that his family spent Campbell's birthday, December 25, at his house.
According to Davis, his wife is in dire need of counselling as everything reminds her of her shattered wedding day.
Explosions on New Year's Eve, a usually romantic time for the couple, jolted her back to the gunshots that rang out days earlier.
"It is definitely going to scar us for life," lamented Davis one week after the deadly clash.
Campbell fired the first shot, but Davis said his friend, who craftily found out his wife's ring size, helped to plan the wedding and was scheduled to give a toast at the reception and would not have pulled his gun without his life being directly threatened.
"I wasn't there when the incident happened, but me knowing Paul, I don't see Paul as that person who would get up and pop out a gun and shoot persons.
"Something happened that drove him to that point. That is what I believe," said Davis, as he argued that Campbell would be quicker to remove himself from confrontation.
"I was the one who took Paul there to play music, and I would be the person who rented the place ... if there was a problem, I would think you (the owner) would come to me," Davis added, as he struggled to make sense of the reported confrontation which led to his best friend being dead and another person nursing a gunshot wound.
Last week, a senior police source in Trelawny told The Sunday Gleaner that the investigation into the incident is ongoing. According to the source, once the investigation is done, a file will be sent to the Police High Command or the director of public prosecutions for a ruling.