A father was left in utter shock on Saturday night when he heard the news that his 28-year-old son, Jerome Barnett, had been shot dead in Olympic Gardens, St Andrew.
Delroy Barnett said his son was a father of an eight-year-old boy, and was expecting his second child in two months.
According to reports from the police’s Corporate Communications Unit (CCU), the younger Barnett, who is otherwise called Bugman, and 46-year-old Rohan “Bums” Clarke – both from the Bay Farm Road area – were shot dead while walking home from a party about 8:45 pm on Saturday.
“A group of men were returning home from a party when a motor vehicle pulled up on them, and the occupants of the vehicle opened fire hitting both men and five others. Both men died after being taken to the hospital and the others are being treated,” CCU said. An investigation is ongoing.
The elder Barnett, an auto mechanic, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that the family is reeling from the loss. He said he learnt of his son’s passing over the phone from a relative.
“The whole family is very devastated. He was born and bred right here. Is just a loss weh me haffi accept. His sister take it real hard. He wasn’t a bad fellow. He was somebody you could get along with and things like that. One of my relatives called me and tell me that mi son get shot and him tell mi the location,” Barnett recounted.
“I saw his babymother this morning. She is seven months pregnant. She said she was going to tell their son, but I don’t know if she did so as yet,” he said.
Contrary to police reports, Barnett said he was told by a neighbour that the younger Barnett had been in the community all night prior to the shooting incident.
“Him seh Bugman deh here the whole night a drink and him go out deh and get caught up when him hear seh Bums out deh. A bigger man fi him, but a him good friend.”
Barnett said the last time he saw Jerome – his fourth child – was when he asked him about a work tool on Friday.
“I have a lot of tools and I miss a hammer, so I went to him and ask fi mi hammer. Him seh a never him trouble it. Suh we deh deh and him joke it off and ask mi fi $100. Mi tell him seh mi nuh have nuh money and ask him weh him do with fi him money weh him work. Then him seh him nuh get nuh money yet; mi see seh him did a settle dung and a take the work serious. Mi never see him again until I heard that he got killed,” he said.
“I do auto repairs and he does the same thing, because I teach him the trade, and he worked with me from time to time. At the present moment, he wasn’t working with me, he was working with one of my friends. I teach all of my children. They went to good schools, but I still try to get them to adopt the trade,” he told the Observer.
The elder Barnett said when he woke up on Saturday morning the void he felt was immeasurable. He reminisced on the day Jerome was born.
“Yuh see when him born and I went to the hospital to look for him, I never see his mother the same time… She wasn’t on the ward when I went there. But I go on the ward and see a baby and I know a my baby,” he said with pride. “One nurse seh how mi must seh a my baby and mi cyaan do that. And the little baby just smile… at such a young, tender age, mi seh, ‘Is a sign this,’ ” he recalled.
He said shortly after Jerome’s mother returned and confirmed that it was indeed his child.
“From yuh see him, yuh see me. Him a the only child mi have weh a dead stamp a mi, and me and him cyaa get along at times. Wi quarrel and when wi done quarrel, a just him dat. Me and him will cuss as father and son, and him seh all if mi urinate in food, he would take it and eat it. A just me and him dat,” the father said.