Hell in church – Jamaica Observer


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The police theorise that a contract killing stemming from a domestic dispute triggered yesterday's horrific death of a woman who was brutally gunned down as she worshipped at Agape Christian Fellowship Church on Market Street in Falmouth, Trelawny.
Quick police action resulted in three persons of interests being taken into custody for questioning in connection with the gun slaying. The police say they have also seized the vehicle which reportedly transported the trigger man. No one else was physically harmed during the attack.“Following strong investigative leads the police were able to zone in on several persons of interest in this matter and were able to seize the vehicle. But it is still tenuous, so we cannot say much more at this time,” head of the Area One Police Division, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Clifford Chambers told the Jamaica Observer last night.The police have identified the deceased as 50-year-old National Commercial Bank employee Andrea Lowe Garwood, of a Stone Brook Manor, Florence Hall, Trelawny, address.“We think it is coming from a domestic feud. That's all I am prepared to say at the moment,” a usually impeccable police source revealed.The Observer has learnt that only last year, Lowe Garwood's husband died as a result of injuries he sustained in a motor vehicle collision in St James.Security Minister Dr Horace Chang, who visited the murder scene yesterday, said: “This a reflection of the level of the brutality that some of our criminals have gotten. The police have extremely good leads and are expected to close this quickly...but it is still particularly worrying.”

Last year, the parish of Trelawny recorded 21 murders, the majority of which were reportedly triggered by domestic disputes.Domestic dispute-related killings spilled over into this year, as police blamed the shooting death of four-year-old Chloe Brown, and the shooting and injuring of her father during a predawn attack at their Freeman's Hall home earlier this month — the first murder recorded in the parish for 2021 — on a dispute with the father and a close relative.About 10: 30 am yesterday pandemonium struck during the praise and worship segment of the church service after the gunslinger, who had been posing as a worshipper, fired a volley of shots hitting Lowe Garwood and sending members of the congregation scampering in all directions.The police say the attacker reportedly fled from the church and boarded a waiting motor car which sped away. The injured Lowe Garwood was taken to the Falmouth Public General where she was pronounced dead.The shooter reportedly sat behind the unsuspecting Lowe Garwood during the service after entering the church and sanitising his hand, in keeping with COVID-19 protocols, said to be strictly adhered to at the church.When the Observer enquired from a male member of the congregation whether the gunman had been wearing a mask upon his entry, he noted that, while he did not see his face, it was hardly likely for an individual not wearing a mask to be allowed to take part in the worship.“It is a prerequisite for anyone entering the sanctuary to wear a mask, get their hands sanitised, and do a temperature check. And the time you enter would be recorded... That is the protocol of the church, which is that one is not allowed to go into the sanctuary without wearing a mask,” the visibly shaken church member underscored.Head of the Agape Christian Fellowship Church, Pastor Junior Rutty told the Observer that the shooter had not been wearing a proper mask, but rather “a handkerchief around his mouth, and he was also wearing a hat. You could hardly make out a face”.There was a strong outpouring of condemnation of the brazen assault of the woman as she worshipped inside the church.Among those who denounced the grisly killing was a senior citizen who joined a throng of grim-faced onlookers and distraught worshippers who massed beyond the police yellow tape ringing the crime scene.“In the past a man would put out the cigarette he is smoking if he is passing the church, but now man a go inside the church and 'light up' people with gunshot. What has the world come to?” he questioned.Pastor Rutty, who was overcome with grief, disclosed that some church members were not only traumatised, but fearful.“The members are very distraught and disturbed. Some are wondering if there is anything else. It really affects them deeply. This is trauma!” the clergyman bemoaned.Member of Parliament for Trelawny Northern Tova Hamilton was also among those who condemned the incident.“It's quite heart-rending. The entire constituency is in a state of shock. I had an opportunity to speak with church members who were present during the incident and they are traumatised,” she said.She was particularly upset that there had been children inside the church who witnessed the frightening incident.“More and more we are being forced to accept that we have no safe havens. The hearts of men are callous, cruel. Why does violence continue to be our solution to conflict? What are we really becoming as a people?” she questioned. “I believe it is time for us to accept, once and for all, that crime is an epidemic in this country, and we must act in concert to eradicate it,” the parliamentarian charged.Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login

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