Armed thugs unleashed terror in the community of Retirement, St. James, Jamaica on Saturday night, leaving four members of one family dead, three others hospitalised.
Those killed are 43-year-old Lyris Ellis-Johnson; her 17-year-old daughter, Kaya Wilson; son, Kirk Wilson, 19; and her stepson, 15-year-old Troy Johnson.
Their deaths bring to 158, the number of persons killed in St. James since the start of the year.
“I am deeply saddened and I feel it to my heart. When I heard last night I couldn’t even move. I feel it very hard,” said the Rev. Neville Campbell of the Retirement New Testament Church of God.
“Sharon (Lyris) and her children were active in the church from the beginning … she played an integral role in the church’s development,” the pastor added.
According to police reports, at about 10:00 p.m. on Saturday night, three gunmen kicked open the door to the Johnsons’ residence as the family watched television.
The men opened fire hitting seven persons, including Mrs. Johnson’s husband and her two sons, aged 14 and 10. However, the father managed to chop one of the attackers on the leg.
The Gleaner understands that the incident was a reprisal for the arrest of a man, who allegedly stole a businessman’s firearm in the area about two weeks ago. It is believed that a member of the family witnessed the robbery and alerted the police.
“Right now I have to get somewhere to stay because the person responsible for this killing comes from the area,” said a relative of the deceased family members.
However, Superintendent Warren Clarke, divisional commander for St. James, is appealing for the killers to turn themselves in.
“It is very difficult to prevent murders of this sort but when they occur, the emphasis must be on bringing the killers to justice and this we are pursuing vehemently,” the officer stated. “The killers have been identified and we are searching for them.”