Tue | Dec 5, 2023

Deadly déjà vu

Family fearful after gunmen kill couple at bus stop

Published:Tuesday | October 3, 2023 | 12:10 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer
The scene of the double murder in McCook’s Pen, St Catherine, early Monday morning.
The scene of the double murder in McCook’s Pen, St Catherine, early Monday morning.

A St Catherine family is now living in fear after one of their own was slain, along with his girlfriend, early Monday morning while at a bus stop in McCook’s Pen.

The victims were both higglers and were on their way to the Coronation Market in downtown Kingston. They have been identified as 55-year-old Derran Kepple and Angella Weatherburn of Big Lane in McCook’s Pen.

Reports are that about 4:30 a.m., the couple were at their usual bus stop when armed men attacked them, firing multiple rounds.

Residents, who heard the gunfire and went to investigate at daybreak, discovered the bodies behind the bus stop. Both victims had been shot multiple times.

Kepple’s grief-stricken family is now grappling with the harsh reality of being down this road twice before.

One relative blamed the police for the tragic incident.

“The police them know what going on because this is not the first time for us. Right now, we don’t know who next,” the family member told The Gleaner.

“This is bigger than the police,” said another.

“They were targeted. This is the third killing in the family since 2019,” the close family member said before declining to speak further out of fear.

“Mi nah say nothing more because we don’t know who next dem a target,” the family member added.

The Gleaner was told that Kepple’s girlfriend, Weatherburn, moved to McCook’s Pen from Denham Town in west Kingston just over a year ago to live with him.

Up to press time, the police had not determined the motive for the murders.

In the meantime, the repeated tragedies have left the family in a state of shock and the community struggling to comprehend the senseless loss of life.

The residents are calling for increased security measures to prevent further acts of violence.

The double murder follows on the heels of a quadruple murder in Riversdale, St Catherine, on September 26 in which a mother and daughter and their domestic helper and her spouse were murdered in a home invasion.

Prior to this, a man, his wife, and their teenage son were murdered in Waterloo, St Catherine, and in yet another multiple killing in the parish, the bodies of four men were discovered in Central Village with multiple gunshot wounds in July.

Up to last Saturday, the St Catherine North Police Division, in which McCook’s Pen is located, had recorded 86 murders and 46 shootings since January, both falling from 117 and 71, respectively, when compared with the corresponding period in 2022.

Islandwide figures show 1,038 murders up to September 30. The figure represents a 12 per cent year-on-year decline. St James, the only police division with a triple-digit murder tally, leads the island with 144 cases so far this year, followed by St Andrew South (95) and Westmoreland (92).

Portland (13), Trelawny (14) and St Thomas (18) have recorded the fewest murders since January.