KINGSTON –– The gruesome murder of 76-year-old Herbert Johnson in his bed last Thursday morning has left members of the Battersea community in shock. Johnson was shot multiple times, including in the face, after two gunmen invaded his home minutes after midnight.
Family members and residents of Battersea which spans two parishes, Trelawny and St Ann, said the death of the farmer was a big shock to the community.
“Why? What? Those are the questions everybody asking,” Timarley Johnson, one of Johnson’s seven sons said.
“The way how them deal wid mi father, mi no think him deserve that kind of death,” Johnson continued.
Timarley said if his father had died from natural causes, it would be easier for the family to accept his passing.
“When mi hear say daddy dead mi no feel nervous, because mi a say him up in age,” Johnson said.
He said he was devastated when he found out that his father was murdered.
“Him hardly go anywhere; he no involve in wrongdoing,” the distressed son said.
“He have seven sons and none of us no involve in any wrongs,” he said.
Johnson said his father had been ill and had not gone about his usual business as a higgler for over a month. However, he continued farming up to the time of his death.
According to family members, armed men went to a house where Johnson lived previously and asked his grandson for “the old people” who lived there. They took the grandson at gunpoint and instructed him to take them to the house where Johnson and his wife of over 40 years, Caneta, lived. The grandson was used to get the couple to open the door to the house.
Johnson was shot and killed while in bed, in the house where he and his wife had been living for only a few weeks.
Timarley Johnson said his father’s house was destroyed by fire last October; as a result, the couple moved to a neighbouring house while a new house was being constructed for them.
“Mi never want them move in until it finish, but they never want Hurricane Matthew catch them in that house,” he said.
The couple moved into the unfinished house as a precautionary measure.
Persons believe the gunmen wanted to kill the elderly man, since they went to the house they lived in previously asking for them. Also, Johnson’s wife and grandson, who were present at the time of the shooting, were not harmed.
Caneta Johnson said she opened the door after her grandson called saying he was not well.
“Mi believe, because he did sick a few days aback,” she said.
She said when she opened the door one of the men with his face covered entered and began shooting her husband, who was still in bed.
“The frighten mi frighten all mi could do was bawl Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” she said.
Family members say they did not know of Johnson having an altercation with any one.
He was remembered as a kind man who always cooked a big pot of food whenever family members visited.
Other residents of the community say they are concerned about the number of shootings which have been occurring in Battersea since the start of the year.
“This is the third shooting since di year start. Mi nuh know what happening in Battersea,” one taxi driver said.
“One time you could leave your door open at nights,” one family member said.
He said Battersea is a relatively quiet community, but since the start of the year there have been several unsolved shootings in the community.