Some residents of Rices, St Philip have not slept since the horror of cold-blooded murder visited their doorstep with the gunning down of a 52-year-old woman and her 32-year-old son in the community.
What has been equally hard to accept is that two boys, ages six and 11 years were said to have been at the house when the incident unfolded.
When Barbados TODAY visited the community over 12 hours after the brazen double shooting, dozens of neighbours with bloodshot eyes stood outside in small groups still stunned by the unexpected developments.
Hours before, the bodies of Betty Mayers and her son, Jamal Mayers were removed from the gruesome scene, but the stench of blood still lingered in the air.
“He ran from one side of the house over to the banana patch and they worked on him out there. I’m telling you, it was terrible,” one relative said, referring to the murder of the younger Mayers.
Meanwhile, the blood-spattered wall at the front of Mayer’s small house marked the spot where she died moments later.
Neighbors and relatives said the mother of two lived with her elderly father and her 11-year-old grandson- the child of her now deceased son. The pre-teen was reportedly at home with a six-year-old relative when the gunfire erupted.
“The first thing the six-year-old told me was, ‘my nana died praying’ when she got shot,” said another relative who last night begged police to provide counseling for the two children.
“It’s such a sad occasion and he is preparing for the 11-plus exam and he will have to take the exam with that on his mind. Could you believe it?
“The older boy apparently had to place his hand on the mouth of the younger one who started screaming, because he didn’t want the shooters to know they were in the house.
“They had to go underneath the cellar from inside the kitchen and hide. When the shooting stopped, he lifted the other one over the fence and went all the way down to the back,” said the relative.
Police Public Relations Officer acting Inspector Rodney Inniss said around 8 p.m. Sunday night, they received a call that two masked men were seen at a house in the community and on arrival discovered the motionless bodies.
Contrary to previous reports, family members said Jamal Mayers did not live in Rice’s, but in Reed Street, The City, where he moved when he was about 15 years old. He visited his mother on Sundays to be with his son. On this occasion however, he missed the bus to Bridgetown and as a result remained in the eastern parish later than usual.
“She would have been alive if he had caught a bus and gone along about his business,” said one relative.
Another neighbor added that on Sunday evenings, the mother of two would usually attend church in Church Village, St Philip. However on this occasion, church had been cancelled.
“She didn’t go to church in the morning, because she wasn’t quite ready when her lift arrived. She was getting ready to go in the evening, but one of her church sisters rang and told her don’t bother to come, because church is cancelled. If there was church, she would have been alive.”
Relatives spoke glowingly of the deceased woman, describing her as a praying woman.
“I don’t believe it. Betty of all people was innocent . . . Betty would not hurt a fly. She prayed morning, noon and night. She was always keeping a lot of noise, speaking in tongues and that kind of thing,” said the relative.
Of the gunmen, another questioned: “Why did they come up here? Why did they follow him up here?
“This was a place where we used to stay up all night playing rounders.
“The only thing we could complain about is children stealing your ackees and breaking a couple of canes to sell on the road and children do that all over the place,” she said.
Another elderly woman speculated that based on the precise nature of the killing, the gunmen had conducted some research before making their move.
“I believe they scouted this area,” she said, while lamenting on the recent scourge of violence affecting various communities in St Philip.
Since the incident, priest-in-charge of the nearby St Martin’s Anglican Church, Reverend Amrela Massiah expressed alarm at the increasing violence in the parish and its impact particularly on “school-aged” youth.
Stressing that “political games” were not to the answer, she said: “I know that prayer can change things and to this end I am hoping to mobilize all pastors in Rices-Kirtons-St Martin-Gemswick area to stand with me against this evil.’
She added: “I’ve already contacted two ministers in the area and have asked them to meet with me. I’d like us to put our ecclesiological and theological ‘differences’ aside and address this together. I also contacted our parliamentary representative [Indar Weir] and asked if he would be willing to work with us on a response to this,” she said.
Near the scene, a frustrated elderly woman lamented, “They said that our new bishop, Maxwell will bring the young people in church and I said yes, these are the young people that they will bring in church. They will bring them in dead.”
Meanwhile the police PRO made another appeal as the country grappled with a bloody weekend in which the country recorded its 16th, 17th and 18th murders.
“Anything that you have heard, anything that you know, however small we are appealing to people to let us know what is going on,” Inniss urged.