While 68-year-old Tyrone Austin of Free Hill, St Michael was widely known for his drinking, no one imagined that he would’ve been found dead near his home in what appears to be violent circumstances.
The shocking discovery has thrown his family and neighbors into a state of disbelief, after finding out the man, whom many have described as “a peaceful old man”, could very well be Barbados’ 27th murder for the year.
As his sister, 66-year-old Patricia Austin shared fond memories of roaming freely in the area barefooted as a child, she said she never would have imagined that decades later, her brother would have gone for a walk, but would never return.
“The police came this morning and asked me . . . if I know Tyrone Austin and I said yes,” she said. The news of his passing came next, which has left her feeling “very bad”, especially after finding out that the perpetrator had “smashed his head”.
Just the night before, police found the elderly man’s body near the entrance of a bushy track at Paradise Heights, St Michael and was appealing for assistance from the public to identify him, and to get insight into the circumstances surrounding his death. Those living in the community Austin called home before he died said he would do a lot of walking around, but insisted, he was no trouble maker.
“He just used to walk and drink his little alcohol and say, ‘my name is Tyrone Power, I does drink a rum every hour,’” recalled a young woman in the area, who said he would be missed.
A stone’s throw away from where he lived, Tyrone’s brother, Charlie Austin was confident that the perpetrator(s) would be brought to justice.
“There’s nobody that comes up against this family that doesn’t get punished and punished seriously. Not by me, but by the hand of God and we leave it all to Him. We will see them [the perpetrators], and we will know who they are,” he said sternly.
Despite his composed demeanor, Charlie, one of Tyrone’s eight siblings said he never thought his brother would be the victim of such a gruesome act.
“It has me shaken up. If he had died from natural causes, you would still be hurt. But hearing that he died from being murdered,” he said softly, “Something has to be done with these people who are walking around, because it could be me, it could be you, it could be anybody.
“It wasn’t in my imagination at all that it could be him. When I heard the news and I went over there by the others, and I heard that the police wanted someone to identify the body, it was shocking,” he said.
According to family members, the elderly victim was a landscaper in his younger days and even played in a band called The Austin Brothers as a teen with some of his other siblings. While Charlie indicated that he did not share his brother’s hobby of drinking, he said their relationship was “pretty good”.
“Up to Sunday night when I came in, he told me ‘man give me something [money]’and I gave him piece of change because I know he only wanted something to drink,” he said.
Casting his mind back to the July 17th murder of fifty-eight-year-old Colleen Payne, who was shot and killed while at an ATM at the Royal Bank of Canada’s Black Rock branch, Charlie complained that the blatant disregard for older members of society was disheartening.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if young people did this to my brother. I am not saying it is so, but I wouldn’t be surprised,” he said.
“I really hope they get hold of the people who are doing these things, because it is a small set of them. I think the majority of young people mean good for this country, but there’s the minority, a small fraction of them that are spoiling the image of Barbados,” he said.