‘No one thought gun murders would escalate’
It was ten years ago on this day that her only child was shot and killed outside of Club Malabar in Dockyard. But Marsha Jones remembers that fateful trip to the hospital like it was yesterday.
A parent never recovers from the loss of a child, especially when murder creates a permanent void in their life.
And when no one is held accountable for taking a life it is comparable to pouring salt on a deep ceded wound.
Ten years after the death of her son Ms Jones said healing has been a painful process.
She sat down with
The Royal Gazette to speak out against the violence once again to express her fears for the children left fatherless either through jail or violent deaths.
Shaundae Jones, 20, was shot and killed in the early hours of Sunday, April 27, in 2003 shortly after he left the nightclub at 3am. His assailant emerged from a crowd of people and shot him once in the chest.
Blood gushing from his wound, Shaundae died en route to King Edward VII Memorial where he was later pronounced dead. The murder was witnessed by numerous people but to date the case remains unsolved.
“It’s been difficult at times but at the same time you can’t forget, some days are more difficult than others,” said Ms Jones.
“I could be driving in my car and a song comes on the radio and I just burst into tears and cry all the way to work and then sit in my car to compose myself before I go in.”
She smiled as she said it doesn’t happen as frequently as it did in the beginning.
“When I lost Shaundae I lost the future of my family because he was an only child and so was I. But I’m able to laugh about the good times more as time goes on.”
Thankfully she said: “The man in my life is really my rock, he gets me through all of this, he’s seen me at my lowest, he’s seen me at my best and he tries his best to keep me going.”
She recounted the night she received a desperate phone call from her son’s girlfriend who was hysterical and screaming that he had been shot.
“I was confused at first so I dialled Shaundae’s number and one of his mates answered his phone and that’s when my heart really stung, I was hoping he would answer.
“His friend said he was shot in the shoulder, I was still clinging to hope when I saw people crying inside the hospital.
“They took me in this room and a nurse told me that he was gone and I asked her if she meant that he was gone to surgery, I still didn’t realise that he was dead.
“When she told me, all I remember after that was that I was crawling around on the floor and she told me they were going to clean him up before I could see him.
“I will never forget seeing my child lying there, he looked like he was just sleeping but he had a gunshot wound on the left side of his chest. I kept calling him, shaking him, begging him to wake up,” she said.
Ten years later she lamented the loss of so many more young black men who have been gunned down. And she still grapples with the fact that her son was killed three months after he testified in another murder case for the Crown.
She had convinced her son to do the right thing by testifying in the murder trial stemming from the stabbing death of Tekle Mallory outside Paget Ice Queen in 2001.
To date no one has been convicted for that murder.
Asked if she regrets telling her son to testify, she took a long, deep breath with tears in her eyes.
“I regret the fact that I lost him but at the same time I felt that he needed to stand up and do the right thing.
He testified that he was at Ice Queen when he saw his friend holding the victim after he was injured, he never saw who did it.”
A man was extradited to Bermuda from Jamaica in connection with her son’s murder but the firearms charges against him were dropped in 2005 when a key witness failed to testify.
With no conviction she said she has no real closure.
“That’s the struggle, the struggle living without him is so deep but it really put salt in the wound that nobody was held accountable and I don’t think anybody ever will.
“Sometimes you feel so close to getting justice and then it all falls apart, I’ve been through six Public Safety Ministers and three Commissioner of Police. I’ve had excuses and while I understand the explanations they make no sense to me.”
And then there’s the pain that resurfaces whenever another young man is shot and killed.
“I think of their mothers and the little things that I suffered through like whether to keep his toothbrush or the last wash cloth that he used. When you’re the mother or the parent of a murder victim,
everything becomes important.
“The pain may ease at times but it never goes away because they’re killing each other and it hurts that they’re killing off their own race.”
Ms Jones has been criticised for speaking out over the years, asked to respond she asked: “How many more people have suffered the same thing that I’ve gone through since my son was killed?
“I even said at one point that if Shaundae was white this case would have been handled differently. But we’ve got a serious situation in our black community even if they catch the killers that’s like another death,” she said.
Her biggest regret is that she was unable to keep her son abroad in school when her mother fell ill and had to be placed in a home for residential care.
“It was a struggle financially so he came home to do two years at Bermuda College and then return for his Master’s Degree. I still feel that if he wasn’t here this wouldn’t have happened.”
She spoke of countless Bermudians who have sent their sons out of Bermuda to live and in the long run she said that cannot be healthy for an ageing community.
“I think about reaching my retirement years and I wonder who’s going to look out for me when I get up in years.
“All my immediate family is in St Mary’s Church graveyard I look at those graves when I come down the hill from Khyber Pass to start my work day.
“When I reach my 70s I have no immediate family to look out for me and that’s scary and I worry about the children coming up now and what they will have to deal with.”
Ms Jones concluded: “We’ve got to find a better way to turn this around. Ten years ago no one thought gun murders would escalate the way they have.
“All I’m asking is for people to take a real honest look at Bermuda’s future if we keep going down the road we’re on now.”
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