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Reliving the horror in Braeton Phase III
The following is an account given by Staff Reporter Claude Mills after the shooting of seven men last week in Braeton Phase III in Portmore, St. Catherine. Mr. Mills lives a few houses from where the incident took place.
Braeton Phase III will never be the same again following the much-publicised blood bath on March 14 at a two-bedroom concrete house on Fifth Seal Way that claimed the lives of seven young men, some still teenagers.
I woke up at 5:10 a.m. to a single loud noise. It sounded like a car backfiring. Then there were two more reports. I believed they were gunshots. Puzzled, I went back to bed.
There wasn't any other sound for maybe two minutes or so. Then I heard noises coming from the dark outside and the muffled sound of men shouting frantic orders. A few seconds later, the silence of the morning was shattered when a barrage of explosions rang out, closely followed by another series of explosions. Car alarms went off.
After a while, the explosions stopped. So too the car alarms. Then at 5:28 a.m. there was a high-pitched sound as a man was heard begging for his life. The voice was full of despair and desperation. A man was begging for mercy.
`Officer, mi no know! Officer, officer! No, officer! Duh officer...nuh kill me,` the man cried.
Gunshots followed his desperate plea. Then a stony silence. It was still dark. It was now 5:39 a.m. Everyone in my house was awake. We exchanged worried glances, wondering what kind of horrors were unfolding outside.
Then came another voice.
`Help me nuh Bredda Corpie! No mek dem kill me. Help me no Bredda Corpie! Whoi,` a man bawled out.
There was a pause, and then there were three evenly spaced explosions followed by more screams. Then a barrage of heavy explosions filled the morning. More car alarms went off. Then the explosions stopped.
The day dawned all grey and rose, and soon a crowd began to gather in the walkway on Seal Way. Several stony-faced police officers kept the crowd at bay.
Curious Braeton residents ventured up the concrete walkway. Some were still in their `nighties`. They stood grim-faced but expectant as the policemen took bodies from the house on Fifth Seal Way, one by one, and packed them like kindling in the back of the police jeeps. Two young ladies cried openly. The policemen walked back to the crime scene and the crowd followed.
Turning, two policemen fired shots in the air, and the crowd retreated to the top of the walkway.
`Who fi go work, go work. Who fi go school, go school,` a policeman said gruffly. `Lady, yu look like a married woman, gwaan go look after yu husband breakfast. Go to your abiding place.`
The crowd did not move. In fact, it had swelled to at least 50 persons. Policemen put up yellow crime scene tape around the premises. Then at a few minutes before 7 a.m. I heard a voice cryiing out from inside the house on Fifth Seal Way.
`Whoi, no kill me. Mama, dem a go kill me. Mama, dem a go kill me. Dem a go ki...,` the voice screamed, before being cut short by more explosions.
A woman screamed `murder!` My bowels felt weak. For a few seconds, the crowd surged and pulled as a murmur of excitement ran like a wave through it.
A woman called `Ms. Pauline`, who had lost two sons violently, began to chant `Jesus` over and over again.
`Murderers,` a woman said in a loud voice. `Oonu a murdera!`
Another woman began to wail, and she buried her face in her hands.
`Dress back, go to your abiding place,` a policeman warned. `Dress back.`
A young man, upset by the incident, refused to be consoled by a girl close by and stormed off.
Later, Senior Superintendent Reneto Adams, who is in charge of the Crime Management Unit, came to address the crowd, assuring them that justice had been delivered on Fifth Seal Way because the killers of principal Keith Morris a few hours ago, and of Constable Dwight Gibson and another male in Above Rocks on March 1, had been found and dealt with. He empathized with a woman who was crying.
Since the incident, hundreds of persons have visited the house. When I went inside that morning, blood was everywhere: blood-soaked mattresses in the bedrooms, a spray of blood on the living room wall, a blood stain on a chair. There was a pillow with a hole in it and broken furniture (a toilet bowl had been smashed). A broken plate lay on the floor. A half-eaten dumpling and raw salt fish were also scattered on the floor. In one bedroom, there was a film of dark blood spread over the floor.
Chunks of white bone-like fragments were also scattered on the floor. The acrid smell of disinfectant and bleach was everywhere. Someone had emptied what seemed like a container of bleach in all the rooms.
Some residents of Braeton Phase III said no amount of bleach can erase the memory of that morning in their community.