By Farrah Johnson
JACQUELIN Francois will never get the chance to see his three young children grow up. The father-of-three was shot dead on Monday night at around 7pm as he stood with a group of men on the side of Montgomery Avenue off Carmichael Road.
Police said the occupants of a black Toyota Passo pulled through the corner and opened fire in the direction of the men before hitting Mr Francois and speeding away. Paramedics were called, however Mr Francois was pronounced dead on the scene. Police have not yet officially released his identity. However, his family, confirming who he was, said they are traumatised and shocked at the news of the 36-year-old’s “unexpected” death.
Speaking to reporters at the scene, Phillipe Francois, the victim’s brother, said his younger sibling was a hardworking man and dedicated father. He questioned if his brother was the victim of mistaken identity.
“He is wash cars, he does construction (sic). (He did) whatever he (needed) to do to take care of his three kids,” he said.
The victim’s children are aged two, four and 15-years-old. His brother described him as a “cool person” who spoke to everybody.
“Everyone out here will tell you the same thing because most of everybody around here, we grow up like family.
“. . . We try to stay neutral so I can’t see if somebody take him for somebody else. I can’t really say because I just knock off, I come here (and) the minute I reach here—must be one, two minutes (ago)—then we hear gunshots fired.”
Mr Francois said right after the shots rang out, somebody told him his brother had been hit, so he ran to the scene to see if the news was true. There, he saw his brother lying on the ground struggling to breathe.
“After that I run home to go call the old lady,” he said. “Then when she come here she couldn’t take it so she had to go back home.”
Asked how he felt seeing his brother’s dead body, Mr Francois said he experienced the same emotions anybody else would have felt if they had seen a loved one on the ground bleeding and “breathing their last breath”.
Insisting the victim was not a troubled individual, Mr Francois could not say if his brother was the intended target or specify what warranted the shooting in the first place.
“Plenty young fellas them is be shooting out around here and they in gangs and is be doing their stuff. Now it may be a wrong place at the wrong time type of thing. I can’t really say my brother is a saint, but everyone get their good and their bad side.”
Visibly distressed, Mr Francois also told reporters this was his first experience losing someone that close to him.
“I need room, I need room,” he begged. “(If I had) reach a little earlier this (expletive) might have been avoided. I could have carried him home or something. It ain’t good to come meet your family member on the ground bleeding trying to survive.
“Everyone acting like they feeling it but they ain’t going to feel it like a family member. Most of my family done gone because they can’t really take it. My mother get nine kids and he’s the first one really to (pass away).”
The victim’s younger sister, Rosie Francois, also said she was struggling to come to terms with her brother’s death.
“To tell you the truth we was never expecting this,” she told The Tribune. “The last time I see my brother was Saturday and that was it.”
Ms Francois said she was home when she heard her brother had been shot. She said after her stepfather called and told her the news, she came to the scene as fast as she could.
“If you come in this village right now people will tell you how he was,” she said. “He was a cool person, he don’t bother nobody. He just do his little car wash and take (of) care his kids.
“The last conversation I had with him was when I was going to do my daughter hair and then he call me.
“He say he was hungry so he ask me for two dollars, so I give it to him and I had an orange juice in my hand I ask him if he want it. And then he said ‘Yeah,’ so I give it to him and he walk off. That’s the last time we ever spoke.
“I’m his younger sister, I’m the last one. There was nine but now it’s eight. How my mummy is right now, I’m just asking God to strengthen her because she’s taking it pretty hard. Every time you mention my brother’s name that’s it.”