Man at funeral says he saw 'vengeance in people's eyes'

Shootings will continue as people focus more on revenge than mourning, according to someone intimately involved in 'street life' for decades.

Desai Mardel Jones, who pointed a fake gun at Police 15 years ago while on the run, said he was concerned about the future of Bermuda after talking to many involved in gangs across the Island.

Last week he went to Kumi Harford's funeral and said he was horrified by what he saw. Mr. Harford was murdered in a hail of bullets on his way home in the early hours of December 5. At the time he was the 14th person shot on the Island in 2009. Yesterday, that number grew to 16 after Gary "Fingas" Cann was murdered and another man shot in two separate incidents.

Speaking of Mr. Harford's funeral, he said: "I mean no disrespect, but it is the first funeral I have been to where no one appeared to be mourning the individual.

"Instead there was vengeance in people's eyes. Everyone was angry and vengeful.

"When his casket came in already there were shouts of 'the first Parkside person I see I am gonna kill' in the church."

Mr. Jones said guns have been on the Island for years, but the problem was now that they were common place and used over minor disputes.

"It's not just about drugs it's about long held grudges, someone could have done something 10 years ago but now they are grown men with guns and can do something about it." His comments echoed Superintendent Antoine Daniels who said money and drugs were not necessarily the cause of some of the recent shootings and instead indicated petty matters to be the root of the problem after Mr. Harford's death.

"Back in the day though the people who had the guns only brought them out rarely," Mr. Jones said. "Now they come out a lot.

"It's not going to get any better. Many in the community have marched or called for unity — but that is not what these young men want. They want to shoot each other."

And Gladwin Simmons, of the Emperial Group which tried to broker a gang summit five months ago when Louis Farrakhan came to the Island, said it was important people stopped looking for vengeance if the Island was to move forward.

His son, Ian Jason Simmons, was shot by Charles Richardson in 1994. His son survived the attack and Mr. Richardson famously turned his life around after studying law while locked up for the incident.

"You didn't see anything happen to Charles after that shooting because I told my son's friends not to go for vengeance.

"That is what we need now.

"And we need Government to utilise people who have strong relationships within the community, people that these young men trust."

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