Sixty-four-year-old John Clarke is still haunted by the events of last Tuesday night, which brought the life of his close friend Colin Forde to a violent end.
Minutes before The City businessman was gunned down at his recently refurbished Baxter’s Road, St Michael establishment, the two drinking and liming buddies, who shared a 32-year friendship, were preparing to do what they always did whenever they got together.
However, as fate would have it, Forde, 50, would die execution-style in a volley of bullet from the guns of two assailants.
It all happened so quickly that Clarke is still trying to figure it out.
He told Barbados TODAY he was not even in a position to help police identify the two men who killed his friend.
However, with death striking this close to home, Clarke is adamant that something must be done to arrest worrying crime levels.
“Anybody in their right mind would be concerned about the crime and violence in Barbados and should want to see an end to it,” said Clarke, who stopped short of appealing for a resumption of hanging.
“I don’t expect them to start any executions because I know the treaties that Barbados signed on to [but] I believe in not letting things get too far out of hand. We have to send a message to some of them [criminals] and they would cool down, that’s for sure. Anybody has a problem with that, that’s a problem for them,” he added.
The outspoken Clarke, who previously resided in the United States, said he had conditioned himself to be prepared for the unexpected. Still, Forde’s killing has caught him off-guard.
All he remembers of the fateful night was that soon after arriving at Colin’s Sports Bar and Lounge, he felt the urge to go the bathroom.
However, the piercing sound of at least four gunshots stopped him in his tracks.
Without thinking, Clarke, who is over six feet tall and had previously undergone basic military training, immediately dropped to the ground behind a pool table.
“Ironically, the pool table was only put there about four days before. So I didn’t really see anything. But when the shooting stopped I jump up and the shooters had fled,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Clarke said the usually crowded bar was virtually empty that night, as it was still too early for the usual patrons. Clarke himself had been unsure if he would have gone there that night.
“I guess he [Colin] probably opened half hour before. But we would usually sit outside the shop and engage in old talk, take a drink. He was there and one or two other guys. I just give him a knock and say, ‘boy I got a quick bathroom call’ and went inside.
“But funny enough, since the building was rewired, I kept hitting the wrong switch [in the bathroom]. That night I turned back to make sure I had the right light off,” he recalled.
By the time he got back to Colin it was too late.
The atmosphere had also changed completely from one of merriment to one of instant mourning.
Police responded swiftly; so too a large crowd of onlookers who converged outside.
Forde’s loved ones had also rushed to his side, but Clarke looked on helplessly as his talkative friend laid before him in a pool of blood, struggling to speak.
Now, two days after the shooting, Clarke has finally begun to assess what Forde’s death will mean for him.
He has lost other friends before, but this one hurts, probably more than any other.
“I am going through a stage now where I am almost alone,” he said.