Gunshot victim from Morne Du Don pleads to government for help

Gunshot victim from Morne Du Don pleads to government for help
Suzanna Cooper almost lost her finger in the shooting.
Suzanna Cooper almost lost her finger in the shooting. She has done five surgeries on the finger.

A 32-year-old mother of five children who was shot near her Morne Du Don, Castries home last year is appealing for help from the government as she explores ways to either leave the tough inner-city community or at least get land to build a more spacious and secure residence.

Suzanna Cooper sustained gunshot wounds to her shoulder and finger on November 13, 2013. Though the bullet was removed from her shoulder and has since healed, she has done five surgeries so far on the finger – one in November, another in December and two in April. She did the fifth surgery yesterday (June 30) at Victoria Hospital.

Cooper said she is hopeful that government will provide assistance soon as she needs a safer environment for her five children.

Cooper, who described herself as an innocent victim, told SNO that she had just arrived home from the city and stopped by a friend called ‘Fatty’ who sells “things” nearby when the shooting took place.

“As soon as I was giving her the money I hear one shot. I say ‘Fatty’ gunshot! Go down! By the time I go down…I feel like my hand hurting me. When I look I see I get shot in my finger and one in my shoulder,” she said.

The mother said she has no clue why she was shot and who shot her.

“I don’t know the people. I don’t have any trouble with no-one. Up to now I don’t know why is me,” she stated.

Cooper said Morne Du Don has become more dangerous over the years.

“Every time is a gunshot. Look just last week they had shots by my home, just by my house,” she noted. “For now I just need a safe place for my kids.”

The security guard, who lives with all five children – ages 15,13,9, and six-year-old twins – said

Cooper shows another area where she was shot in the November 2013 attack.

her financial burden has worsened as a result of the injuries sustained from the shooting. She said the first three children are for the same father and the twins are for a different man.

Cooper told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) in an exclusive interview that each surgery costs $1,500 and the medication “costs a lot”. She has been “in and out of work” because of the injuries.

When SNO asked how she manages, she replied: “I just try my best.”

The hardworking mother said despite her financial hardships she has ensured that none of her children sleep hungry and they “never miss a day of school”.

“If they sick I stay home same time,” she added.

Cooper desperately wants to leave Morne Du Don which has been the scene of several homicides and shootings over the past year.

“Right now I just need to move out of deh,” she stated, adding that it is difficult to move because of the number of children she has.

“But all the houses I getting, the owners saying they not renting for people with kids. I have to try to get help from government… up to now.”

The bullet removed from Cooper’s shoulder.

Cooper and her common-law-husband have applied twice to the Ministry of Physical Development, Housing and Urban Renewal for housing assistance.

She said the first letter was submitted in January 2014 and addressed to “Ministry of Physical Development, Housing and Urban Renewal. To the Project Coordinator of the Gaboo Lands Project.”

It stated (verbatim): “Dear Sir/Madam: At present the home I reside continue to put my family at risk and my hope of safe housing is my major short coming and this is why I seek the assistance from the PROUD unit/project.

“Please consider me as a beneficiary seeking an available vacant lot during the (PROUD) Programme for the Regularization of Unplanned Development as the Gaboo Lands or preferably the Bosi Orange project site.

“This request is being made as we are financially constrained and my common law wife at the time was an innocent victim of a shooting in the Morne Du don Community. Also residing with us is five children. The location where I reside is in the immediate vicinity of gun violence and hence is the reason why the family is not safe and I seek the assistance of the PROUD project within the Urban Renewal Division.

“We are presently employed. But I am still on medical leaf from work while I continue to recover from the gunshot wounds I sustained. Therefore I am informing the division of my interest to purchase one lot of residential land to enable me to provide myself with a safer home.

Cooper did the fifth surgery on her finger yesterday (June 30)

“Given the assistance, we are prepared to put in our best effort to deal with the financial responsibility given the present situation of our housing accommodation and financial constrains.”

Cooper claimed she did not get a response to this letter so she reapplied again – almost two months later.

“Because I need it bad. Rent take up all my money,” she said.

The second letter was submitted on February 24, 2014 and addressed to the “Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Physical Development, Housing and Urban Renewal for attention to the “Project Co-ordinator Michael “Gaboo” Alexander Lands Project”.

The letter reads (verbatim): “The home in which we; together with our five (5) children, are presently living in continues to place our family at risk, due primarily to the emergence of gun violence in the vicinity of our community at Morne du-don. This situation has developed in recent times and has since rendered our hopes of safe housing frightening.

“Consequently we are compelled to seek your assistance through the Programme for the Regularization of Unplanned Development (PROUD) Unit, for possible consideration as a beneficiary of any available and affordable residential lands for the construction of a family home, either on the lands known as “Gaboo” Lands in Morne-du-Don or the Bois D’Orange Crown lands project. We are prepared to lease or purchase a residential lot in either location to enable us to build a safer home.

Photo of the first letter submitted to government.

“Though we are both presently working, our request is being made against the background of our financial constraints. In addition, Suzanna, my common law wife became an innocent victim of a shooting incident near our home and is still recovering from the gunshot wounds which she sustained.

“In the event that our request is favourably considered, we can be contacted at the following numbers:
* Devon Joseph – 518-3303
* Suzanna Cooper – 727-4016/460-9056.

“Please accept our sincere thanks and appreciation for your time and consideration.”

Cooper also claimed that she is yet to receive a response from this last letter – more than four months later.

“I have not yet heard from them…. If I can get a lot (of land) from them I can put a house for me and my kids because I need it bad.”

However, Cooper is still hopeful government will respond to her favourably.

“As a mother of five I have to try my best for my kids. My first son is in Form 4, going to Form 5 this year. God is good,” she concluded.

Below is an article produced by the Government Information Service (GIS) and published on St. Lucia News Online on November 28, 2013 about the rationalisation of a parcel of land at Gaboo Lands in Morne Du Don.

“The Ministry of Housing, Physical Development and Urban Renewal is in the process of undertaking the rationalisation of a parcel of land at Gaboo Lands, which is located at Morne Du Don.

“The rationalisation of the existing four acre parcel of land will provide residents with the opportunity to own the lot on which their dwelling home presently sits. This process will also result in improved living conditions for residents.

“Stanley Felix, Minister for Housing, Physical Development and Urban Renewal, and his team at the ministry held a community meeting at the Morne Du Don Combined School on Tuesday to update residents on the steps that have been made to facilitate this process.

“Social Planner in the Housing and Urban Renewal Division Darnally Estava told residents they must start thinking like land owners.

“You have to stop thinking of yourself as just living on the land and now begin thinking of yourself as land owner,” said Estava. “What we will do from this point on [is that] as soon as Cabinet gives a decision as to the prices of the land, we will be issuing what is called an offer letter. The offer letter will have all the information about your lot. It will include the lot number, the lot size [and] the price of the land.”

“As with the Bois d’Orange Redevelopment Project, the Cabinet of Ministers will determine the price and length of time the residents will have to pay for the lands. The lots of land will be surveyed in accordance with what home dwellers occupy. Importantly, residents will not be considered owners of the land unless they have completed payments on the land.

“In addressing residents, the housing minister allayed their concerns about the prices of the lots: “I am looking at getting this land to you at a price that every single person here can afford. Nothing that is going to break your back, because the important thing for us is that you become land owners, and we recognise that you have been living there for so long and we must take cognisance of the fact that if given the opportunity back then you would have been paying much less than the value of the land now.”

“Felix added that Cabinet will not determine price [of the lots] as per the real value, but rather, it will be determined based on the socio-economic conditions of residents, and “of course being mindful that we want to get you all to be landowners”.

“The Gaboo Lands parcel is a total of four acres and comprises 34 existing houses. The Government of St Lucia plans to undertake infrastructural works in the area in phases.

“The ministry hopes that the residents will be land owners by year-end.”

* NOTE: St. Lucia News Online will continue to try to get a response from the Ministry regarding an update on the land rationaliation programme at Morne Du Don.

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29 COMMENTS

  1. Police need to bring back "Restore Confidence Operation". Those Morne Du Don thugs are a menace to society. Get rid of them and problem solved!!

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  2. I swear I share an island with idiots!! She didnt ask for government to just drop land into her laps she basically put in a request for land that she is going to pay for despite her financial constraints, she is not crying for help cuz she cant take care of her kids, she is asking for assistance to be removed from a place which is no longer safe for herself and a children, seriously lucians?? the small mindedness is too much!! Unless u living in Morne du don u won't understand hoe bad it is for the residents, we practically live in fear...i believe if she was asking anyone else for help the same comments would b mad, and we wonder y our country in the same spot for so many years...

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  3. Some ppl rather see others suffer like Dogs,that's the same set with wicked mentalities & hate to see you bring a new appliance into your home...I know about dem that's why I don't stay amongst them.

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  4. I know some of my fellow men and women of St Lucia are very wicked. These comments make me sick to stomach Godly people try to help one another not write nonsense like that because one good turn deserves another so stop the crap because one day you'll have a say

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  5. she isn't in this situation as a result of the kids. some people seem to put this as the main focus. the credit crunch hit big countries around 2008, it wasn't as bad as it is or wasn't predictable by the average person to be and that's when she had her youngest so say 2007 possibly this lady was maybe working with 3 kids so what's wrong with that? then she had a 2 for one? so why blame her situation on her kids?

    the lady wants to move to a safer area. what if they become the next 5 nobel laureates? she did say they don't go hungry or miss school.....

    yes the kids make it more challenging for her to move but they are not the problem; it's the dumbass criminals hurting their own people. she shouldn't have to leave the area, they do!

    the authorities need to exterminate the bad elements out of society. give an ultimatum - change your ways and add to progress of the nation or get dumped at the rubbish site with the rest of the garbage being collected by ccc

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  6. select your mother didnt go family planning to make you wtf u cah comment sum good shut ur ass

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  7. Well if the Government can pay Jadia Pierre's medical bill while she gets a salary most of us StLucians can only dream of fresh out of school at her age, whats wrong with this lady being considered at least for some type of assistance, at least she is not sitting on her but and asking.

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  8. Areas like this needs a police squad presence there to stop their madness.We are too small to have such territorial wars among drug barons.

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  9. I hope she gets the help..at least the government can start with one person.. Some of the info in the article is none of the public's business though.. just only results in people casting judgment.. but the bottom line.. hope she gets through..

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  10. What kind if nonsense you telling the lady seek Asylum! People like you that make it hard for lucians to travel anywhere! Idiot!!!

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    • That's the truth there. 5 kids but asking for help. She didn't ask for my help and taxes when was doing the jiggy business.

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    • I AGREE PPL JUS MAKING ENDLESS KIDS IN THIS HARD I REPEAT HARD TIMES N B4 ANYFING CALLING ON GOVERNMENT 4 HELP. B4 WE MAKE ALL DEM KIDS WE HAVE TO FIRST THINK OF WAT KINDA LIFE WE CAN PROVIDE 4 DEM IF SUMFING UNEXPECTED HAPPENS WILL WE B ABLE TO MAINTAIN THEM WE HAVE TO FINK AHEAD B4 WE MAKE ALL DEM KIDS IN THIS KINDA SUFFERATION FINK

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  11. The government cannot do everything for you, you have to do something for yourself. The government is not the Salvation Army or some public wishing well. Now having said that our governments are responsible for the current attitudes and dependency thinking that we have. I know most people won't like this post but that's fine. Medicine is often unpalatable. The governments and their friends treat the public purse as a private wishing well, so why shouldn't the common man have the same perception? And when a government provides very little then the needs of the people balloon.

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  12. ok so... you have 5 children all over the place with different people, and government is supposed to intervene and give you land? aa just so? I will never understand this.

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  13. Why are you printing these people's numbers? This should have been removed from the letter since this information could be used for wrong purposes.

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  14. Why does this newspaper always publish people's phone numbers? Just write a succinct article without all the waffle. you don't need to copy both letters out ad verbatim, just paraphrase it.

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      • Merrick don't worry with the backlash you're fine. I think a suggestion is far better than finger pointing and question asking. So my suggestion is that in the future you could consider black out personal identifying information from such documents in order to protect the innocent and vulnerable, or to just be safe.

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  15. I feel for the lady, and hope she makes a good recovery. But as an aside, we can't improve as a nation when people want help from the government because they've got too many kids or want some land. Everyone wants some land, but it's not for the government to start parcelling it up and doling it out to people.

    It sets a bad precedent, because some people can say "why did he/she get this and now I want it too".

    Nothing personal intended towards the lady, just hoping to speak a bit of common sense.

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  16. Madam I am very sorry you and your kids have to endure this hardship, so we agree the state cannot provide security , contact the U.S embassy let them know you are in fear for life , you have no more faith in your government or security forces can protect you or your family seek asylum.

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    • Idiot! What nonsense is that you are advising the lady to seek Asylum! People like you that make it hard for lucians to go anywhere with your Asylum talk!!!

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  17. It might be easier for government to clean up the area and provide protection for all because if everyone were to seek similar assistance, how would that ply out.

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    • Would also be a lot more cost effective and a much better use of state funds to address the cancer rather than putting band aids on the wounds that are mere symptoms of the overall predicament - bad governance (both parties), nepotism, under developed human resources, and a government that seems not to care. When last has the Minister of Security said anything meaningful about his policy and a plan to fix this out of control situation? In fact when was the last time we heard squat from that guy who we pay tons to do nothing.

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