By Khrisna Russell
Tribune Staff Reporter
“DON’T shoot, children in here!” a young boy has recounted as being among the last words of one of three men fatally shot by police on Friday.
When officers stormed the sprawling pink and white house just off Eastern Road in the early morning raid, there were six children inside.
Two of them, with the permission of relatives, gave a chilling account of what unfolded when the armed officers entered the house where they slept. The Tribune has decided not to reveal any identifying factors related to the boys in order to preserve their identities.
“He looked at me and took his last breath and mummy was crying,” the younger of the two boys said. “The police came and he did say, ‘don’t shoot my children in here’.
“I thought my daddy would be around until I was 18,” he said sadly.
“He was saying don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” the older boy said. “He was holding me and police start saying, ‘put the boy down’, so he put me down and the police come up the stairs and round him and shoot him in his back.
“And I had blood on my clothes ‘cause I fell down in the blood on the floor.”
Asked if they trusted the police, both boys said they did not. In the aftermath of the fatal shootings, bloodstains and bullet holes feature prominently at the Newgate and Commonwealth Road house where relatives yesterday questioned why police allegedly ambushed “unarmed” Jamaal Penn, Valentino Pratt and Trevor Cooper.
Relatives of the deceased alleged police entered the gates of the home and first shot one man sleeping in the garage in a Nissan Note vehicle. From there they claimed officers barged into a small room in the garage and opened fire on a man hiding underneath a wooden twin bed.
Officers then went inside the main house and up the staircase to the bedroom where the third man was fatally shot, it was alleged.
As it remains unclear to them why police descended on the home, they also vehemently denied that there was any gunfire on police from any of the three men. Police have said at least two of them opened fire on officers.
The home’s residents claimed this was particularly the case regarding Penn, telling The Tribune he would have never put his wife, children and elderly wheelchair-bound mother-in-law, who also slept inside the house early that morning, in harm’s way.
They have also expressed worry about the integrity of evidence, claiming the same officers who shot the men are also investigating the incident.
One of the residents of the home, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said yesterday: “Yes they had (court) cases and stuff before and no one is saying, ‘oh my good child’ but why did they do that?
“Previously they came in and searched the home and arrested one of them, but they didn’t find any weapons so he was released. So now all of a sudden they findings guns?
“Something is fishy with this. How it is that they charged (arrested) people, came back twice yesterday (Saturday) with them and then again today they are here talking about they bringing people for clothes, gone inside with just one woman and no female police officer?”
The relatives further claim a pregnant woman was arrested, denied medical attention and are advocating for her release from police custody.
It is also alleged that one family dog was shot dead and another taken to an undisclosed location.
On Friday, authorities said the men were killed in an exchange of gunfire.
According to Chief Superintendent Solomon Cash, police discovered 22lbs of marijuana and two additional firearms afterwards in a search of the property. In total, police said three weapons were recovered.
At the time, several people were arrested.
Police said this was the result of a manhunt operation in the area to locate a wanted suspect for a recent homicide and recent shootings in New Providence.
Officers were able to enter the property because they were granted a search warrant, CSP Cash told reporters.
He said on Friday: “Sometime around 2.30am this morning police received information relative to a wanted suspect for the most recent homicide in New Providence. As a result of this information officers executed a search warrant on a property. Once officers entered the property they were confronted by two armed suspects who opened fire on the officers. The officers being in fear of their life returned fire. Both suspects were shot fatally. The officers then proceeded to the interior of the building, which they breached.
“As they breached the interior they were confronted by a third armed suspect. As a result of that, officers being in fear of their life opened fire, which resulted in the third suspect being shot and fatally injured. I can tell you once the gunfire subsided the officers were able to recover three weapons.”
Coroner Jeanine Weech Gomez visited the scene.
CSP Cash has said at least one of the deceased men was known to police.
Attempts to reach CSP Cash and Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson for comment on the allegations were unsuccessful yesterday.