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Candlelight vigil honours shooting victim James (Junior) Lawes

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Murder victim James (Junior) Lawes was honoured with a candlelit vigil at the site where he was gunned down, a year on from his death.

The Jamaican barber was chatting with friends outside Place's Place on Dundonald Street, Pembroke on March 19 2010 when he was felled in a drive-by shooting.

He lost his fight for life two days later. The shooting, which also left two men injured, remains unsolved.

Last night, the anniversary of Mr Lawes' death was honoured by a vigil outside Place's Place. His widow, Greashena Spence-Lawes, thanked the crowd of around 60 for their support.

“We ask that you all keep his family in Jamaica in your prayers,” she urged.

Mr Lawes was the sixth man to lose his life in a series of shootings that began in May 2009. Seven more have been murdered since.

Mrs Spence-Lawes, 29, told

The Royal Gazette on Sunday that she does not know what sparked the attack that claimed her husband's life. However, police have told her he was in the “wrong place at the wrong time” and she does not believe he was the intended target.

The couple had been married for just four months when he was killed. Mrs Spence-Lawes broke down in tears and was comforted by family members including her mother, community activist Gina Spence, during the hour-long ceremony at dusk.

Ms Spence performed an interpretive dance to the song “Stand” by gospel singer Donnie McClurkin.

Jamaican gospel-reggae artist Missian and former Bermuda Teen Idol winner Candace Furbert also performed at the event which featured prayers and tributes led by preachers Scott Smith and Jimmy Dendwiddi, Minister of Justice Michael Scott and Opposition Leader Kim Swan.

Among the others who gathered were Shawn Crockwell of the United Bermuda Party and PLP Senator Cromwell Shakir.

The vigil was organised by Keona Smith, cousin of another murder victim, Colford Ferguson, who was killed in Sandys on February 4.

Ms Smith plans to host similar ceremonies for other shooting victims through the course of the year.

Mrs Spence-Lawes thanked her for her support, saying: “She called me, and just having her call me felt so good.” She urged other grieving families: “Support each other. Don't point fingers or choose sides or try to figure out why or who. Push all the negativity aside and don't continue it even when you hear it.”

Police also marked the anniversary of Mr Lawes' death with a renewed appeal for witnesses yesterday. A spokesman said: “The investigation into the murder is ongoing. Police are still interested in speaking with anyone who may have been in the area of Dundonald Street and Court Street in Pembroke around 10.55pm Friday, March 19 2010 and saw anything suspicious, no matter how insignificant it may have seemed at the time.

“Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact the Serious Crime Unit on 295-0011 or the independent, confidential Crime Stoppers Bermuda hotline on 800-8477.”

Photo by Glenn Tucker Greashena Spence, the widow of James [Junior] Lawes sheds a tear at a candlelit vigil to mark the anniversary of his death yesterday.
A tribute poster showing murder victim James (Junior) Lawes at a candlelight vigil for him on Dundonald Street, Pembroke, last night to mark the anniversary of his death.
Photo by Glenn Tucker Friends and family of murder victim James [Junior] Lawes gathered for a vigil in Dundonald Street, Pembroke, last night to mark the anniversary of his death.
Photo by Glenn Tucker Gina Spence performs a dance at a vigil in memory of her murdered son-in-law James [Junior] Lawes who died a year ago yesterday.

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Published March 22, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated March 22, 2011 at 9:56 am)

Candlelight vigil honours shooting victim James (Junior) Lawes

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