Bad March Pen Memories - Recent killings take residents back to 2000 'Black Friday'

October 14, 2016
Last Sunday's shooting was too much for this resident of March Pen, St Catherine.
Elder Omar Ricketts prays for Sonia McDonald (centre), mother of two of the persons killed in the March Pen community last week Sunday.

Sunday's massacre in the March Pen, St Catherine community where five people were gruesomely murdered has unearthed memories of 16 years ago, where five people were gunned down on Good Friday in same community.

On Friday April 21, 2000, the death of four women and a man sent the March Pen community in mourning.

The five killed were Edgar Halstead, 56, his wife Sylvia Halstead, 48, Cassandra Campbell, 54, Myrtle Wee-Tom, 68 and Fredrica Wee-Tom, 45.

Another man was shot and injured during the incident.

Reports are that gunmen killed the Halsteads earlier, and while making their escape, the hoodlums opened fire on the other three women who were coming from church.

The police said the incident occurred at about 9pm during a power outage in the community.

When THE WEEKEND STAR visited the March Pen community where the five people, including three children, were killed on Sunday at least two residents on hand told our news team that the incident was a stark reminder of the tragedy that struck many years ago.




"A nuh round this side enuh. Is around that side over there so. I remember when it happened. I don't know them personally, but I remember when it made the news just like how this ya massacre gwaan," one woman said.

THE WEEKEND STAR was told by another resident that not all the persons killed in the incident 16 years ago resided in March Pen.

"Some were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The youth dem weh do that either deh a jail or dem dead off," an elderly male resident told THE WEEKEND STAR.

Two men, Wayne Morris, also called 'Rape', and Dean Reid, also called 'Sampoochie', both labourers of March Pen Road, St Catherine, were charged for the murders.

The men were in 2008 convicted of killing detective sergeant Maurice Shirley in a bar in Spanish Town, St Catherine.

Justice Lloyd Hibbert ordered that the men must each serve 35 years' imprisonment before they can be paroled.

They were never tried because the Crown was having difficulty locating the civilian witnesses.

"That is a classic example of a community where criminality has also become a way of life," a senior investigator commented.

Bishop Rohan Edwards who operates in the Spanish Town area, told THE WEEKEND STAR that he remembers the 'Good Friday Massacre'. He said, too, that the constant bloodshed in areas of Spanish Town such as March Pen is due to many social factors.




"There are law-abiding citizens there, but the bad roads and zinc fence, because of the structure, it harbours all different types of people. It need to be restructured and organised, and the Government needs to get the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) involved," Edwards said.

He said that JSIF did work on the main road, but "not for the community, like they did for areas like Jones Avenue, Homestead, Central Village and others".

"Pull down the zinc fences, the police have a problem patrolling. They need to get attention. Until they do that, it's going to continue to harbour types of people that can create mayhem," Edwards said.

Last Sunday, armed men went to an area of March Pen known as Africa and murdered five people and injured two others. The police later listed Marvin 'Fat Man' Campbell as a person of interest in relation to the shooting.

The other victims are two-year-old Koyandra Wynter, nine-year-old Revaughn Evans, 22-year-old Venisha Bartley, Marvin Campbell Jr., 14, and 24-year-old Salesha Evans.

Bishop Edwards on Wednesday turned Campbell over to the police, who said he is wanted for sexual assault committed against a member of his family.

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