Catherine Hall erupts

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Tony Barrett

Michael Nattoo – Staff Reporter

On Monday morning, the middle-class community of Catherine Hall in St. James was a mixture of clouds of smoke, burning debris across the roadways, and angry residents, all in protest of Saturday’s fatal shooting of 22-year-old Tony Barrett, who was downed in an alleged confrontation with the police.

Under the watch of members of the security forces, firefighters go about the business of clearing debris from a section of the roadway in Catherine Hall following the mass protests.

According to the police, Barrett was shot around 2:35 p.m., after he reportedly challenged the lawmen who were on duty in the area. A Browning single action 9mm pistol, loaded with a magazine containing two rounds of ammunition, was reportedly taken from the deceased Catherine Hall resident.

MOTHER IN SHAMBLES

“Tony was no gunman, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my son. He was really the most caring person I knew, and he would never challenge the police… in fact, Tony was afraid of the police. Sir, Tony never killed anybody,” shared Natalie, mother of the deceased man, who revealed to the Western Mirror that the death of her son has only left her with grief and frustration.

“Why are they tarnishing his character like this? I just don’t understand why they would be saying these things. I really don’t know,” the grieving mother said. “He was my first child, and I could depend on him for anything.”

Natalie, who is physically challenged as a result of a stroke she survived some years ago, explained that Barrett, on Saturday, was initially at home before tragedy struck. “He was at home downstairs playing games with a friend who had come to visit,” she shared, adding that playing video games was something the 22-year-old enjoyed doing very much. “His friend asked him to buy some rum, and when he went to the shop, his sister, who was doing his hair at the time, didn’t see him coming back.” While that was not uncommon, Natalie shared that her suspicions grew when a bad feeling suddenly overtook her. “I felt like I wanted to go to the bathroom, but I really didn’t… I just knew I felt really bad, and I could tell that something wasn’t right.” She further shared with the Western Mirror that not long after those feelings, Barrett’s sister, who had gone to look for him because he had disappeared for a suspiciously long time, came back crying, “Dem kill mi bredda, dem kill mi bredda!”

‘NO, TONY IS ALRIGHT’

The alarm raised by her daughter forced Natalie to come out on her verandah, where she called her daughter, who was crying uncontrollably, to come to her. “Wa happen? Stop the crying man, Tony isn’t dead, Tony is downstairs playing game, stop the crying man,” said Natalie, an attempt to console her daughter. She shared that she wasn’t in denial, and was honestly of the belief that her son had returned from the shop and was back to playing his video games.

As her daughter’s crying continued and her attempts to console her failing, Natalie’s worst fears were realized when she got a phone call. “They asked me if I knew where Tony was, and asked me if I was OK, and I said ‘yeah’, and after talking, I realized that it was true – Tony was dead,” she added.

Natalie said that she was informed that Tony had been carried off in a jeep, but, as she later learnt, that was after he had been shot.

“Right now, his sister is trying to cope and she’s taking it very hard. I can’t even say his name without crying. You have to understand, he was the one who was always checking on me. He always ensured that I was being taken care of. If anybody needed a helping hand, he was always there to help them. That’s why the community was so angry. Even people I didn’t think he was friends with, all came out and were protesting, and that’s because of the kind of person he was. He always spoke his mind, but he never held grudges, and was very forgiving.”

Firefighters put out the blaze from this section of the ignited roadblocks in Catherine Hall on Monday.

According to his mother, Tony had been recently married, and was away in the United States with his wife, before circumstances forced him to come back to Jamaica, where he continued to take care of her.

As far as run-ins with the law were considered, Natalie shared that Tony had never been to jail, and was only detained under the State of Emergency for a few hours, released the same day he was detained.

FATAL SHOOTINGS MOUNT

Barrett’s fatal shooting comes on the heels of that of Kayon Wellington and another man, who were reportedly shot in confrontation with the police in the community of Belmont. Wellington was, according to the police, leader of the Dean’s Lane Gang, and was also involved in the March 10 Jarrett Street shooting and double murder.

PERSONS OF INTEREST NABBED

In relation to the above-mentioned incident, the St. James police are reporting that two men – 26-year-old Demeir Brown, otherwise called ‘Bummie Squeeze’ and Dwayne Barnes, otherwise called ‘Tickerous’, were arrested in a raid in Chester Castle, Hanover, on Friday, March 15.

The men are believed to be the other accomplices in the much-publicized robbery/murder.

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