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Leon Gaymes was shot and killed in Layou on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.
Leon Gaymes was shot and killed in Layou on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.
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Layou resident Leona Lynch is all too familiar with the impact of murder.

Her son, Leon Gaymes, 26, was shot and killed by a masked gunman in Layou Saturday night in full view of his girlfriend and their 3-year-old son.

Leona has also lost three of her brothers — one of whom is still alive — to murder.

On Oct. 31, 2004, her brother Algernon “Baby” Lynch, a 31-year-old fisherman, of Texier Road, Layou, died after being shot in the chest while attending a party in the area. He was gunned down in the presence of his son, who was about 5 years old.

In March 2007, Julius “Pipey” John was sentenced to life imprisonment for that murder. 

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Then, Leona’s brother, Joseph Evans “Tuffy” Lynch, 36, died at the scene after being shot multiple times around midday on Sept. 1, 2012 at Cashville in the Swamp Gut area of Layou.

On March 29, 2019, Andy Quashie, then 33, was sentenced to 33 years in prison for Evans’ murder. 

Her brother, Kenute “Bahoo” Lynch is serving a 30-year prison sentence for murder.

He was convicted on Feb. 24, 2012 of murder in connection with the July 18, 2007 shooting of Layou resident, Maxwell John in the Central Leeward town. John died on Oct. 16, 2007 as a result of the gunshot wound.

Though the killings span almost two decades, each of these men was shot merely a few hundred yards away from each other.

Leon was the third person shot and killed in Layou since Oct. 16. However, on Wednesday night, that number rose to four, when farmer Jimodean “Jim” Sam, 45, of Akers Road, Layou, was gunned down while walking along a mountain road, taking the homicide count this year to a record 50.

During an interview with their family on Wednesday, one of Leona’s daughters wondered whether the murder of her brother was part of a “generational thing”.

The family also expressed fears that the lives of their two other sons, Joveka Gaymes, 27, and Desroy Gaymes could be at risk.

Their fears were not unfounded. There was an attempt on Joveka’s life on Oct. 31, when he was shot at five times around 7 p.m. as he was walking in Betromy, Layou. 

iWitness News sat down with Leona, her common-law husband and father of her children — Desley Gaymes — and their daughters at their home in Layou on Wednesday.

The interview took place about an hour before Joveka would be released from police custody for a second time, reportedly in connection with the Nov. 5, murder of Tambu Patrick, 39, who died after being shot multiple times by assailant(s) in Ruthland Vale, Layou.

The family later told iWitness News that during his 48 hours of detention, the police actually questioned Joveka about a robbery in the town. 

Earlier this month, Joveka and Leon were taken into custody for questioning in connection with Tambu’s murder, which followed that of Delano “Smoke” Patrick, one of Tambu’s relatives, on Oct. 16, also in Layou.

Jovika Gaymes
Joveka Gaymes in a 2018 photo while recovering for a gunshot to the face.. (iWN photo)

The family felt that this could have made their sons a target.

Leona told iWitness News that she was at a shop near their home along the main road in Layou speaking to a friend last Saturday when she heard two explosions.

Her common-law husband was sitting in a vehicle nearby. 

She said she asked the friend if the sound was gunshots and the person said yes. 

Then, one of their daughters came out the gate and told them that Leon’s girlfriend had called, saying that someone had come into the yard and shot him.

The couple used the vehicle to go to the scene, located nearby. 

Desley told iWitness News that when they arrived at the scene, they saw their son on his face “struggling” but alive.

“He died on his way going [to the hospital]. He died on the stretch up by Duncan there,” he said, referring to an area in Pembroke, about a mile from Layou. 

Desley told iWitness News that he was devastated when he saw his son lying on the ground, mortally wounded. 

When they got to the hospital in Kingstown, seven miles away, they knew that the doctors only had to perform the formality of pronouncing Leon dead.

Leon Gaymes
Leaon Gaymes was sjhot and killed in Layou on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.

The family acknowledged that they have heard a lot of rumours about Leon’s death, including that he was killed in retaliation for Tambu’s murder.

“Why would they say such when he was never convicted or charged for murder,” one of Leon’s sisters, all of whom asked not to be identified by name, told iWitness News. 

Another of the sisters said all three of her brothers were at home the night when Tambu was killed.

“The night when we heard that Tambu was shot, the police immediately came here. They ran into the house to see if all three of them were at home,” one sister said.

“It was strange because I kept asking, ‘What happened? What happened?’ They didn’t say anything.”

The following morning, about 5 a.m., the police returned to the house and took Joveka and Leon into custody for questioning. 

The family said it was the same officers who had come to check to see if they were at home several hours earlier.  

The brothers were held for 48 hours then released without charge. 

The family said there had been a misunderstanding among a group of men, including Tambu, who were Joveka’s friends.

“I think Tambu and Billy and all of them had a misunderstanding and whatever concerning a robbery of a woman’s shop. They robbed the woman’s shop and framed Joveka until the woman saw the video footage and saw it was them,” the sisters told iWitness News. 

Mirroring 2018 shooting spree 

Joveka used to be friends with Billy Adams, who had also been charged with the murder of Leona’s brother, Evans, but became a witness for the Crown. 

Adams, 32, was shot and killed in Layou on July 27, 2018, less than two years after he survived a gun attack for which another man was imprisoned. 

Police said then that they believed that Adams’ murder was related to a spate of violence in Layou that had left several persons nursing gunshot injuries in 2018. 

Billy Adams
Billy Adams, who had initially been charged with the Sept. 1, 2012 murder of Joseph Evans “Tuffy” Lynch before becoming a Crown witness, was murdered in Layou on Friday, July 27, 2018. (Photo: Facebook)

Adams died on the spot at a shop in Swamp Gut after receiving a shotgun wound to the left side of his back around 8:35 p.m. on July 27, 2018.

On July 30, 2018, Joel King, then 20, was charged with Adams’ murder, but was released from custody earlier this year because of a lack of evidence. 

Leon’s family said the robbers who allegedly tried to frame Joveka are relatives of “the family of the people who shot Joveka”, referring to the May 5, 2018, incident in which Joveka was shot in the mouth.

Brothers Kimron “Bow Foot” George, 20, and Akeem George, 18, were charged with firearm possession and were charged along with Joel King with unlawful and malicious wounding in connection with the shooting of Joveka. 

The men were freed of the charges.

In January 2021, Kimron survived a gun attack when he was shot in his back in Stubbs, where he was living. 

Desley told iWitness News that when the police arrested his sons after Tambu’s murder, they initially said that it was Leon they were interested in. However, they took Joveka into custody also.

“First, they said it was for burglary but when they got to the station, they told them it was to investigate the murder.” 

Then, on Tuesday, police searched the Gaymes home for yet another time in a matter of days.

“To me, it’s like they are working based on the public and whatever they are being told. They came and searched and then they left and went to Texier Road to search and then they came back and said they wanted to question him (Joveka) about Tambu’s murder and they locked him up,” one of the sisters explained. 

Desley told iWitness News that there was an “eating up” after a funeral on the day when Tambu was killed and a lot of people were at the roadside who could testify that his sons were at home at the time of the shooting. 

“They even came and checked my vehicle — checked my engine and so on to see if I had just come from somewhere,” he said. 

One of the sisters said that the police met all three of her brothers at home but took only Joveka and Leon into custody. 

“Desroy was even saying that ‘tomorrow they might come and give me my 48 [hours in custody]’,” one of the sisters told iWitness News. 

Tambu Patrick 1
Tambu Patrick was shot and killed in Layou on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. (Photo: Searchlight.vc)

The family said that a lot of people are speculating that Leon killed Tambu.

“There are a lot of things that they are saying about him. And I think that when the police picked him up because of whatever information was given to them, they just put a target on him. 

“So, a lot of people believe that it was him, even though he was picked up for 48 hours, they did what they had to do, questioned him, searched him or whatever. People were just speculating.”

Desley, however, said that a lot of people testified that his sons were at home when Tambu was killed. 

‘like a generational thing’

One of Leon’s sisters theorised that his death stemmed from the murder of their uncles and imprisonment of another.

“So, I think is like a generational thing, because it is the same set of family fighting us down,” she told iWitness News. 

“Basically, it is like they have to pay for their uncles’ sins. Because, I don’t understand. It is the same set of people that keep fighting us down all the time. Even though they didn’t see them do anything, they still accuse them. Anything happen in Layou, they jump and say, is [Leona’s] children…

“I have a feeling that after my brothers, it would be our children because it seems to be a generational thing. I won’t say we interfere with people. It is the other side’s mindset. 

“After Joveka was shot, he was satisfied. The boys left Layou; everything was calm. Tambu went to prison and he came back out. He and Tambu start back to talk, he going his normal way; everything was calm and then he [was] going home and somebody actually shot after him (Joveka).”

The family said that the police need to conduct their own investigation rather than “working off what people tell them”.

“If I say it is this person, this is who they are coming for,” one of the sisters said.

Desley told iWitness News that his family is being “tortured” by the police.

“It’s six transports that were here yesterday and they cut off [my neighbour’s] lock and searched his place looking for guns and ammunition,” he said, referring to a property that belongs to his neighbours who spend most of the year overseas.

Desley said he had access to the yard but not the house and the police cut the locks off the house and searched it. 

“In a crisis like this that we are in, the police are still torturing us and everybody wants to know why,” Desley told iWitness News. 

“Since Leon died, they have been coming here every day,” one of his daughters said.

“But it seems that they have been coming to their senses because in the late off yesterday (late Tuesday evening), they came here and went to check some other people’s houses. But before that, they were not doing that. But I think they are moving too late. When they were searching us, they were giving the criminals time to hide whatever evidence they have.” 

Delano Patrick
Delano Patrick aka Smoke died after being shot in Layou on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2023.

Desley noted that Tambu has a criminal record in the United States as well as in St. Vincent.

“They send him from America because of the behaviour of him up there and then he come down here and he get into some trouble with the police [who] end up shooting him. They get gun by him,” he said. 

Leona told iWitness News that they have been receiving threats and believe that Joveka and Desroy’s lives are at risk.

“My life, too,” Leona told iWitness News. 

“Not just the boys, the whole family because we are getting threats,” Desley told iWitness News.

One of their daughters added:

“They said they are not going to stop killing until they kill Joveka. So, they want to kill Joveka. And they said they had to kill Leon first because he is quiet and has to be dangerous.”

Desley said that the police had taken someone into custody in connection with Leon’s death but had released him without charge. 

The family said they understand that Leon’s killer was paid to murder him. 

“So, I am surprised that people are saying it is Leon who killed Tambu. Because, as far as I see, it seems like Leon and Smoke’s killer is the same suspect because it seems like it is a Bottom Town and Paul’s Lot war. So, Smoke is Bottom Town and the suspect is Pauls’ Lot. So, they are trying to kill out one another. And the suspect got paid to knock out Leon.”

The family said that they were hearing that Leon’s death was not linked to the conflict between the two Kingstown communities, but whoever ordered Leon’s death might have used the same hitman.

They said that Leon and Smoke are related and never had a conflict. “But it seems like this family’s name is the easiest to call.”

Smoke and Tambu are also related. 

They said that media reports and word on the ground are suggesting that the deaths of Leon, Tambu and Smoke were in retaliation for each other.

“It seems that they are saying that Tambu killed Smoke and Leon killed Tambu.  So, who killed Leon? What reason would Leon have to kill Tambu? Leon and Tambu were friends.

“Leon and Smoke never got into anything. Since Tambu got locked up and came back out of prison he used to pass and shout (greet) us. He never showed us any bad face.”

Leon Gaymes shooting scene
Police on the scene after Leon Gaymes was shot in Layou on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.

Leon ‘died a soldier’

Desley told iWitness News that Leon “put up a hard fight” against his killer and “died a soldier”.

His daughters explained, telling iWitness News that they were told that Leon was wrestling with the suspect but he had been shot and was losing a lot of blood. 

“He (assailant) shot him (Leon) and then Leon kicked him off the porch. And they started stumbling up on the ground. Leon was trying to push him off the wall but after he was losing so much blood…

“When Leon was trying to unmask the gunman, the gunman pointed the gun at his girlfriend and child and Leon told them to run and somewhat lost focus.”

The family said Leon received six gunshots to the chest and one to an arm. 

Leon’s son is with his mother and had to be rushed to hospital since the killing.

Meanwhile, a friend of the family told iWitness News the police have to be careful about how they handle murder investigations.

“Once the police arrest you as a suspect, the police now put you in the hands of street justice.”

The family friend, however, noted that the police can only charge someone if there is evidence.

Peace rally won’t change mindset 

The police have planned a march and rally — dubbed “Love is the Answer” — against crime and violence in Layou for 10 a.m. today (Friday).

Leon’s family did not think that this would be helpful.

“It ain’t make sense. It ain’t going change the minds of the people.”

“The police went around to try to get information from people in the area about Leon’s death and nobody co-operated. Not one soul,” Desley said.

One of his daughters said that the assailant seemed to know the area because dogs did not bark during the attack on Leon and as the killer fled the scene.  

“This guy was really cool and calm. Anybody would tell you that,” Desley said of his slain son. 

“We are cool going people; we are hardworking people. We devote our whole life to farming. That is what I do. That is what I send all my children to school and make a living from,” Desley said as he stood next to crates of watermelons in his yard. 

Leona said: 

“I talk to my children. If they hear by me, they don’t even keep a company in Layou. Because I learn from my brothers. It’s my brothers’ friends who killed them. Joveka feeding them, Joveka doing all kinds of things for this community here,” she said, adding that he tried to build a road in Betromy using his own money.

5 replies on “After Layou man’s murder, family fears continuation of ‘generational thing’ ”

  1. Rhonda Dickson says:

    Now,I’m concerned about the minds of the children in our land ,who […] witnessed most of these vicious attack on their fathers.
    Getting up the next day and not even understanding why their dads are not with them any more.
    Their young minds would have undoubtedly captured and process the last moment of the blood, the cold mindless steel. and the human eliminator and the motionless bodies of their loved ones
    If these children are not helped, ,ears after ,we as a society would reap the effect of such days and the negative imaged imprinted on the minds of our children
    Turn us O Lord and we shall be turned..Healed us O ,Lord and we shall be healed,save us O Lord and we shall be saved according to your word .

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