FAMILY members and close friends of 63-year-old taxi operator Lloyd Clarke were left mourning on Wednesday morning after gunmen sprayed the vehicle with bullets on Hilary Avenue, St Andrew.
The early morning attack left Clarke and a passenger, identified as Rohan Tulloch dead. A woman and her child, also passengers, were injured in the attack and remained in hospital.
According to onlookers, Tulloch, who was allegedly marked for death, boarded Clarke’s cab and was trailed by gunmen who pumped multiple bullets in the vehicle.
When the Jamaica Observer visited the scene on Wednesday, blood running down the side of the taxi, plus bullet holes in the windshield and inside the car, were tell-tale signs of the disaster which unfolded earlier.
A friend of the family, who has made herself a source of solace for the wife of the slain taxi driver, who plied the Red Hills Road route, told the Observer that the now widow, who lives overseas, is taking the situation “extremely hard”. Efforts were made to contact the wife for comment; however, she declined to be interviewed due to her state of trauma.
The family friend, who shared she too was emotionally broken by the murder of the taxi man, lamented that the situation is extremely shocking as Clarke was cautious on a daily basis while he ran his route. She said it would be far less traumatising if he had lost a battle with illness.
“For someone who was law-abiding, at no point did he deserve to be brutally murdered,” the family friend said. “It is a hard pill to swallow. It is not like him sick. He is not even somebody who stays out on the road late at nights because he knows how the streets operate.”
Aaron Fletcher, senior superintendent of police in charge of the St Andrew North Division where the incident took place, said the mother and daughter injured in the incident remained in stable condition in hospital.
According to the senior policeman, one of the deceased is believed to be from the violence-prone community of Park Lane, located off Red Hills Road.
“The information we have is that the passengers travelling in a taxi on Hilary Avenue were pounced upon by persons travelling in motor vehicle or vehicles. The details are unknown at this time but at a later time we will be able to give greater details as it relates to the circumstances,” Fletcher said.
One man told the Observer that his sleep was just beginning to ‘get sweet’ when he frighteningly disturbed by explosions. “It happened just minutes before 8:00 am. The gunshots woke me up. I heard around three first and then six more after that, well rapid. When I reached out here, this road that normally has a lot of traffic was cleared.”
Egeton Newman, president of the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS), extended condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Clarke and called on the Government to bring back the death penalty.
“… This type of assassination on a public transport sector operator cannot be allowed to continue and although it is a reflection of what is taking place in the wider society, there must be a way to bring it under control. Over the past seven days, six taxi operators have been killed across the island, making it a total of 31 since the start of the year. TODSS is urging public transport operators to be very cautious as you travel and with the passengers you engage.”