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Pastor: shootings are ‘alarming and everyone is concerned’

Crime scene: Warwick Workmen’s Club on Cobb’s Hill Road where a man was gunned down (Photograph by Gareth Finighan)

A church leader with ministries in both parishes where shooting murders happened this week said the island faced a “dilemma” over gun crime.

Pastor Dean Smith, of the Open Door Christian Assembly in St David’s, the parish where Laje Franklin, 18, was killed on Tuesday said the island had been stunned by recent gun violence.

Mr Smith also ministers at the Cobb’s Hill Methodist Church in Warwick, which overlooks Warwick Workmen’s Club, where a 24-year old man was shot dead on Thursday night.

He said: “This is certainly a blight on both communities and on the island as a whole.

“While these events are tragic, we are often at a loss for words when it comes to describing the effect and the impact they have on families, on the neighbourhood.

“I believe that right now, everyone is just trying to come to grips with the volume of murders and shootings that are taking place – not just in St David’s or Warwick, but across the entire island. It’s alarming and everyone is concerned.”

Mr Smith added: “We are trying to reach out to whoever we can. It seems, however, that some of our young men have simply lost their way.

“The fact is there’s a great deal of anger and the need for revenge and its showing itself in the most heinous way, which is very troubling.

“We’re committed to do our best for the community. There’s no doubt we have a dilemma on our hands but we’re spreading the good news that there is another way to live your life.”

Warwick residents who spoke to The Royal Gazette yesterday echoed Pastor Dean’s concerns.

What can you do?

Patrina O’Connor Paynter, the managing director of mentoring charity Big Brothers Big Sisters, appealed to the public to take action to stem the recent rash of gun and knife crime.

Ms O’Connor Paynter, in an emotional video posted on LinkedIn, said individuals needed to ask what they could do to stop the violence.

She added: “One of the things that really resonates with me is the fact that it takes all of us because we all have a part to play in this, no matter how big or how small.

“I know it sounds cliched because they say it takes a village to raise a child, and it does take a village.

“We are parents, we are aunts and uncles, and then you have the children in your neighbourhood that when you look out the window you see playing.”

Ms O’Connor Paynter added: “My question is, people want to say stuff, people want to post stuff, but at the end of the day, when the RIPs have finished …

“When something is the news story of the day, everyone is on it. But when that news story passes and something else happens we move on to the next and we say the same things.

“My question is, when do we stop talking and when do we start doing?”

She said: “It’s about us as a community and we can do stuff to help our families and help our children.

“As someone that actually runs a charity and I see what happens and I see the impact that can happen when people just take the time out and just spend time with children and care for children and watch out for children, a lot of stuff can be avoided.

“I say all of that to say, I’m asking you the question – what can you do? I’m not saying you need to be a part of a specific organisation, all I’m saying is, what can you do?”

A member of the Cobb’s Hill Road club asked: “What’s happening to our young people? They just don’t seem to care about other people or even themselves.

“I think parents play a big part because I’m sure they know what their children are getting in to, whether it’s a gang or drugs or other things – and if they don’t know, they should.

“I think a lot of them know what their children are doing and saying nothing.”

The member said: “We’re a tight-knit community and what happened has left a lot of people shaken.

“There were young children at the club making kites just before. Thankfully they left before the shooting started.”

The club member said it was time for a major crackdown on violent crime.

The member said: “I think it’s time for the courts to do what they have to do. We need some hardcore deterrents.

“We keep on hearing about social issues that are the cause of this but I think there’s too much emphasis put on things like that. I think the politicians just try and cover things up when they blame things like social problems. They’re just making excuses for our youth.

“We have to accept that there is always going to be a few bad eggs. Some can be saved, others can’t be. Let’s call a spade a spade.”

Another member of the public, who lives near the shooting scene, said they had narrowly missed being caught up in the shooting.

The householder added: “There were children up there. We were about to head out there ourselves to pick up some food.

“Thankfully we didn’t. We heard the shooting and came inside, locked the door and turned off the lights.

We came out about ten minutes later when things had quietened down and there were lots of police cars here, lots of people going back and forth.“

The neighbour said: “I know there have been a few incidents lately, but it’s more shocking when it’s so close to home – when it happens on your doorstep.

“This is a quiet neighbourhood. If there is any commotion it always happens down towards Ord Road – not around here.”

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Published April 09, 2022 at 7:58 am (Updated April 09, 2022 at 8:24 am)

Pastor: shootings are ‘alarming and everyone is concerned’

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