Almost four years ago on August 27, 2010 at about 9 p.m., 16-year-old Kershell Jn. Marie was enjoying a Piton beer while chatting with a friend at a barbeque in Agard, Morne Du Don, Castries when two masked gunmen approached and began spraying bullets.
At least six people sustained injuries.
The organiser of the social gathering and shop owner, 52-year-old Justus Cenott of Agard, was caught in the crossfire, sustaining a bullet wound to the chest and was pronounced dead at Victoria Hospital.
Kershell – the suspected target of the ‘hit’ – was shot multiple times: one in her right arm, which resulted in its amputation; one in her leg, one in her shoulder and two in her head.
Miraculously, Kershell survived. However tragedy struck again, 45 days later on Oct, 11, 2010 at her home in the La Clery CDC.
At about 2:30 a.m. while Kershell and her family slept, two masked men broke into the house and began spraying bullets.
Kershell’s eight-year-old sister, Marissa Jn. Marie, who was sleeping by their mother, was shot several times. Their mother also sustained gunshot wounds.
Kershell’s father was gun-butted during a struggle.
All three were taken to Victoria Hospital where Kershell’s father was treated and discharged and her mother admitted in critical condition.
Eight-year-old Marissa was pronounced dead.
Yolanda Frederick of La Clery, Castries was charged in connection with the previous shooting in Agard, and was in prison at the time of the La Clery shooting.
But Frederick, 35, who was released from prison earlier this year, was fatally shot at about 8 p.m. in Leslie Land, Castries on Tuesday, July 1. The circumstances surrounding the shooting are not yet clear.
To Kershell, has been finally justice served.
St. Lucia News Online (SNO) was able to track down Kershell who took to social media to express her joy shortly after Frederick’s death. Kershell, who is now 20 and living overseas, has vowed never to return to the land of birth.
She spoke with SNO exclusively in an interview about her nightmarish experiences in St. Lucia as a victim of gun violence, as well as detailing her road to recovery.
She made it clear that she wanted everything to be published.
SEE THE DETAILED INTERVIEW BELIEW with SNO’s chief editor Merrick Andrews:
SNO: How do you feel about the death of Yolanda Frederick who was initially charged with your shooting?
Kershell: I feel great and happy justice was finally served. I’m good; just about to finish college then its work flow.
SNO: How did you hear about the news of his death and what was your initial reaction?
Kershell: My friend (in St. Lucia) told me on BBM (Blackberry Messenger) about after 9, minutes to 10 p.m., and my first reaction was laughter, and I said ‘hesalop, one more to go’. But when I read your news and saw my name I cried because I felt like I was going back to the worse day in my life. The other guy that shot me – karma has no schedule.
SNO: What injuries did you sustain in the shooting in 2010 and how old were you at the time?
Kershell: I was 16 years old. I lost my right arm, got one shot in my leg, one on my shoulder and the other two in my head.
SNO: How long were you hospitalised for? How long has it taken to recover from the physical injuries?
Kershell:About two years but I’m still not fully recovered.
SNO: You said you’re not fully recovered. In what aspects?
Kershell: The facial nerves on the left side of my face are not working like they should and will take a while till they recover or might never recover, but I’m planning to go for a surgery when I’m done with college.
SNO: At the time you got shot, which school were you attending?
Kershell: I was getting ready to go to Form 5 in September (2010) at Sir Ira Simmons.
SNO: What do you remember from the day of the shooting? Who was holding the barbeque?
Kershell: The man who died was the one holding the BBQ, Mr. Bobby. And I can’t remember exactly what happened because of the shots in my head, but the last thing I can remember is I was drinking a Piton beer and talking to a friend. I was unconscious and I have no memory of what took place.
SNO: At the time of the shooting (in Agard, Morne Du Don, Castries) what was your place of residence?
Kershell: La Clery, Castries.
SNO: How many shooters were there and were you able to identify any of the shooters?
Kershell: Two (shooters), and no because I was unconscious but I got to know who it was after and knew who set it up and why.
SNO: Do you believe you were the target of the shooting?
Kershell: I don’t think. I know for a fact 10000% that I was the main target in the shooting.
SNO: What happened to the case? Were you a witness for the prosecution in the Agard shooting? I understand that Yolanda was recently released from prison.
Kershell: I don’t know what happened to the case and I was never a witness, since I never recalled what happened. And yes he just got out of jail in late February (2014). And I was happy he got out because I knew he has a lot of enemies out there who wanted him gone as bad as I did.
Kershell: I don’t think it was related. I know it was related.
SNO: Do you believe that your sister’s shooting was a “message” to get you not to testify?
Kershell: It was a message to get me murdered for wanting to testify against the man that sexually assaulted me.
SNO: So you’re revealing that you were sexually assaulted by a man prior to the shooting?
Kershell: Yes, one of the (four) guys that were shot (and killed) by the police in Vieux Fort. He was the one that told his boys to roll. Some may deny it till this day but I know for a fact it was him. He was their boss.
SNO: Do you believe he (the man killed in Vieux Fort) ordered the hit on you?
Kershell: Yes because after the shooting took place he wanted to pay me to shut up. I heard he planned to kill my mum that night and said if he got to take all of us one time, he would. He planned to kill my mum because she showed up in the court on my behalf for the sexual assault, so he assumed she was the one pushing to go through with the case.
SNO: When your eight-year-old sister was killed were you still in hospital in St. Lucia?
Kershell: No. I was at home hiding under my bed. I was hearing the shots
SNO: And where was your sister? How was she shot? And who was at home? Explain what happened the day your sister was killed.
Kershell: She was in the room next to my mum and nephew. My dad was in his room and my older sis and I were in my room. We came from a get-together at my uncle’s place about after 1 or 12 a.m. then went to bed about an hour or more later. My dad heard them banging the door etc.”
SNO: What happened after?
Kershell: They came in and began firing one time and went straight to my mum room. They continued firing shots then went to my dad room next, and he fought with one of the guys while he had the gun, trying to stab (the gunman) but he (the gunman) had a bullet proof vest, that’s why the knife couldn’t go through. And then the other one came and gave my dad some gun butts on his head and they ran.
SNO: About how many guys attacked the family that night (when your sister was killed)? And how did they get in?
Kershell: Two guys. They broke the back door. I can’t remember if they shot it open.
SNO: Where was your (eight-year-old) sister at the time?
Kershell: Sleeping by my mum.
SNO: Did she get shot while sleeping or did she wake up during the shooting? And where was she shot (on her body)?
Kershell: Yes she woke up calling my mother I think. I am not sure (where she got shot) because they refused to give me information due to my recent injuries. The doctors did not know how I would react… I went in and found out on my own, which killed me inside. After all that I’ve lost, the worst of it all is losing my lil sister.
SNO: How many children does your parents have?
Kershell: Well together, three, which is me, my lil sister that died and my new baby sister.
SNO: How old is your new baby sister?
Kershell: She’s just a few weeks. Born June 27. And she’s not a replacement. No one can or will ever replace my lil sister.
SNO: When last have you been back to St. Lucia?
Kershell: Almost four years and I don’t plan on returning there.
SNO: Do you ever plan on coming back?
Kershell: No. Hell no. St. Lucia eh have nothing for somebody in my situation. I can be successful where I am, but in Lucia it’s close to impossible.
SNO: Going back a bit to the night your sister was shot, what was your condition because you lost your arm at the time. Were you still in bandages? That must’ve been very hard and very traumatic.
Kershell: Yes, I was still in bandages and yes already lost my arm. And to tell you the truth, I was asleep. At first I heard the shots but thought I was dreaming till my big sister woke me up and basically pushed me under my bed.
SNO: How did you lose the arm? Was the bullet wound that bad? Why did they have to cut it?
Kershell: Yes, the bullet crushed my elbow bones and the doctors tried to save it – or whatever they did – and said it was already beginning to decompose and they need to cut it off before it infects the rest of my body which would kill me. I lost 60 percent of my blood that night.
SNO: You’re very blessed to be alive. Two bullets in the head and with those type of injuries and still survive.
Kershell: Yes I guess so. Some say I do voodoo but nope, it’s not me. God is in control.
SNO: Were you able to finish high school in St. Lucia and when did you leave?
Kershell: Almost four years ago – December 26, 2010.
SNO: Have you ever thought of revenge against your shooters and your sister’s killers?
Kershell: Hell yes. I swear if I had won a load of cash I’d pay someone to kill them … does that make me a bad person? Or would I have become as evil as they are? Let me know.
SNO: So have you forgiven them?
Kershell: To tell you the truth I did that the moment I decided that this happened for a reason and God will never fail me, but I still wanted them dead.
SNO: Should I include that in the story?
Kershell: Yes pal. They took the most important part of my life away and that’s my lil sister. I don’t care about the arm or nerves (I lost). You can put everything. I’m only speaking the truth and saying what I should have said long ago.
SNO: Currently what are some of the physical, emotional and psychological challenges you go through as a result of the shootings?
Kershell: Well, I won’t lie. I have trouble sleeping and my doc gave me sleeping pills but I don’t use it unless I got to get up early. But my family says I get upset really quick and I also cry when I’m angry. I cry much faster now and explode really fast. I don’t hold nothing in. If you get me upset I’mma curse you till my tongue gets dry.
SNO: And you were not like this before the shooting?
Kershell: No I wasn’t at all. It’s as a result of the shooting.
SNO: So what do you do in your spare time, for recreation?
Kershell: Listen to music and make plans for my future while looking back in the past and where I am now, while telling myself I’ve been through the worse thing any teen girl could have.
SNO: Are you in a relationship now? And has your injuries and scars ever prevented you from dating?
Kershell: Yes I am almost two years (into my relationship) and no, I’m the kind of girl that loves to dress and keep myself looking attractive from birth. And one more thing. If the nigga got a problem with what he sees he can leave. Nothing not stopping him, but I have my boo so I don’t need to worry about that again. Things like that I use to think about after I left Lucia but that eventually changed.
SNO: Do you have a prosthetic arm?
Kershell: Yes, I have a prosthetic arm.
SNO: You’re attending college/university? And what areas are you pursuing? What do you plan on becoming in the future (career-wise?
Kershell: Yes pal. I’m currently completing my community service worker diploma course. I got 18 days left of class then three months job placement as a youth worker. I’ll be working with abused and troubled teens. I plan to become a social worker/youth worker
SNO: Why a social/youth worker?
Kershell: Because I believe after all what I’ve been through from my teens, I’m the perfect example/helper to assist teens by counselling because I’ll be able to relate to them and make them see and know that after every dark night there’s a brighter day. And a tragic situation will only hurt you or haunt you if you allow it to. I’m an ambitious woman and I refuse to be anything but successful. They try and stop me and they lost once, twice and will continue being losers. Nothing and no one can stop my shine. Just wait: my next step is a book about my life.