KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — The parliamentary representatives for the two constituencies that registered homicides on Tuesday, along with Acting Prime Minister Girlyn Miguel and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, have responded to the killings.
Police reports say George Franklyn of the South Leeward community of Campden Park allegedly shot and killed his wife Ingrid Jack-Franklyn and Hazel-ann James and wounded Simeon James and Desroy John in what one witness described as a “shooting frenzy” Tuesday morning.
Nigel Stephenson, parliamentary representative for South Leeward, who said he knew all of the parties involved, said the killing might have resulted from an impending dissolution of the Franklyns’ marriage.
“From what I gathered, though I don’t want to give too much detail, … those people where having [domestic problems]; they actually were going to go to court today to finalise a divorce and they never get to the court,” Stephenson said on Tuesday.
“… it seems that the person was on a rampage seeking out the friends of his wife … and just kept shooting people. … I am just totally lost for words. … It is really depressing, it is heart-breaking at the moment,” he said on radio.
Tuesday evening, news broke that residents of Redemption Sharpes in Central Kingstown had discovered in a septic tank the body Anthony Nero, who had been missing for about a month.
His body, which was was at an advanced stage of decomposition, was encased in concrete in the septic system.
The Acting Prime Minister, in a statement Tuesday, described the Campden Park killings as “brutal murders”and said “the perpetrators of this horrific act will be brought to justice”.
“This statement is a reminder to those citizens who are lawless and think that the solution to any ill in society is to take the matter into their own hands to address their problems that they are so incorrect in their thinking,” she said.
‘very gruesome exercise’
St. Claire Leacock, Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, said Tuesday that what Sharpes residents discovered that day was “not a body that was recognisable anymore”.
Leacock said that police, whom he commended for doing “a professional job”, had to call for reinforcement “because you had a very angry community”.
“And left to themselves, they (residents) would have taken law into their own hands. … We still have to be a country where the rule of law prevails and you couldn’t allow that,” he said.
Leacock described the gruesome nature of the scene and said that police had to use power tools to remove the body from the septic system.
“It really was a challenging exercise. … By the time all of that was done, what we had seen, the stench, the smell, the disfigurement, the whole atmosphere, it wrenches everything out of you as a person,” he said.
Leacock congratulated citizens who helped police in “that very gruesome exercise”.
He also acknowledged the crime problem in Sharpes, which has registered several gang related homicides over the past few years, but said “not many people understand and appreciate how tightly knit the people of Sharpes are”.
“Notwithstanding the violence we hear from time to time, [which is in the] minority, … the community comes together and are in fact their brothers’ keeper and go out of their way to see that justice prevails and good sense and reason prevails,” Leacock said.
He further said that police have taken a man and a woman into custody as persons of interest.
“The police are conducting their investigation. … The people of Sharpes did well and hundreds, if not thousands of people converge on the crime scene this evening and I know a lot of people would have left there devastated by what they had to witness,” he said.
Leacock said that many residents of Sharpes “feel helpless and that they are victims of circumstances”. He related a conversation with a young man from the community who said that if he is attracted to a young woman his advances are shunned when he say he lives in Sharpes.
“The constituency, and Sharpes in particular, is paying a price for all these homicides,” said the MP, who noted that the death “did not seem like the typical case of violence and drug related”.
“It may well have been out of a domestic situation,” he further said.
Meanwhile, Stephenson, MP for South Leeward where the double killing took place on Tuesday, said the incident was especially very hard for him.
“I know – every single one of those people involved: the alleged killer, the victims themselves, I know these people very, very well. I know their entire families and I have had a fairly good relationship with every one of them,” he said.
“When people’s lives have been taken away from them just like that, it is unexplainable,” Stephenson said.
He said he was bothered because “a number of people in our society have now reached a place in their lives where they have this nothing-to-lose attitude.
“And if they think that they have nothing to lose in life, they will do very, very terrible things, especially just as we have witnessed this morning in Campden Park,” he said.
Stephenson was “very fearful that this is only the tip” and said many person were “frustrated” and desperate” and “looking for a way out”.
“And it is for the society to help them to find a way out. And not just the society, specifically the government needs to help as much it can. … “A lot, a lot of people, particularly young people, [have] this attitude of ‘I have nothing to live for, I have nothing to lose’,” Stephenson said.
He further said that when people meet this point “it become very, very frightening”.
“I am going to say to them to exercise some form of restraint, whatever the difficulties are, whatever the circumstances that you are confronted with, I am urging all people who are listening to me, the citizens of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to exercise restraint because violence is not the answer,” Stephenson said.
Deputy House Speaker David Browne, who contested the South Leeward seat in last year’s general elections, also spoke of the killings in Campden Park.
On Wednesday, he listed some of the crimes in South Leeward over the past few years, including a 10-year-old girl who was abducted and rape, a murder-suicide in Cane Grove in 2009, and said the murders on Tuesday were the third in that vicinity.
“I am seeing a lot of these things are popping up in South Leeward. If you check within the last three or four years, [there is] plenty domestic violence there. … I need help in South Leeward, honestly,” Browne said noting that in his budget presentation last year he proposed a mentorship programme.
“These days, people are looking up to the wrong set of folks,” he said and mentioned a youth awards for the community.
“One of my pillars is spiritual development in developing South Leeward. … The social issues carry no [political] colour, whether it is green yellow or red. Once there is a problem, there is a social problem,” he said.
Browne further said that “the response has been one of negativity” when he “stretched my hand and ask the honourable representative to join in some of these”.
He further spoke of the negative influence of foreign culture and the demise of community organisation in the constituency.
“We are turning on our televisions and we are seeing some of those movie camera stupidness and we are just using them in our everyday life. We are listening to some dumb music as well – some music that have banned in other Caribbean islands. You ban an artiste from coming to St. Vincent but his music is free to be played and all of that is nonsense as well,” Browne said.