It was sometime between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8 in the sleepy community of Darban when Gerald Antoine stopped by his mother’s house and gave her a meal of dumplins and peas.
Not long after Gerald was dead.
The 38-year-old carpenter/labourer was shot in the verandah of his one-room board house, a 25-minute walk from his mother’s residence. Police said he received a gunshot wound to his upper left thigh.
His closest neighbour, Sylvester Tobiere, was at home with his 18-year-old son when he heard an explosion nearby.
“I heard the shot, I heard the noise…. And I didn’t bother myself when I heard the noise. It’s after a good while I heard he called my son,” Tobiere told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) on Monday.
About 30 minutes after being shot, Gerald, bleeding profusely, reportedly crawled about 10 metres from his verandah to the entrance of his neighbour’s yard and shouted for Tobiere’s son.
“He told my son they shot him, they shot him and then my son call me and tell me Gerald say they shot him, then we went to look and saw him out there,” Tobiere said.
Gerald was begging for water to drink when the neighbours approached him.
“He couldn’t drink it (water), he was already too weak. When he asked for the water he didn’t talk again… he died right there,” Tobiere said.
Other neighbours and relatives of the deceased responded, however Gerald reportedly died before he was taken to hospital.
Tobiere said his neighbour would’ve probably survived if he had gotten medical attention instantly, but he bled to death.
Black sand was used to cover the large puddle of blood at the entrance to Tobiere’s yard, and SNO saw bloody clothing in the deceased’s verandah.
When asked why he didn’t respond when he heard the explosion, Tobiere said he did not investigate immediately out of caution, fearing that the shooter would turn his weapon on a Good Samaritan. He said at one point, he brushed the thought aside saying it must’ve been a fire cracker.
“I think that gun is a powerful gun because of the loud sound I heard,” he said.
Tobiere is also baffled as to why Gerald took so long to call for help.
“I not sure how long he was by the yard when he called my son for help,” Tobiere said, adding that he and Gerald grew up in the rural community. He said they were neighbours but not close friends, nor enemies.
Several residents in the community alleged that Gerald was no saint and was notorious for stealing provisions and breaking into houses. They further alleged that police have intervened before, checking Gerald as a suspect.
However, Gerald’s family has denied this.
“I have no idea of that one,” said cousin, Leopold Alexander. “Even though people saying things, it’s rumours.
Responding to rumours of Gerald’s criminality, SNO asked Police Press Officer Aniel Innocent if Gerald has a criminal record or if nearby police stations have arrested him for any crime. She said checks with the Laborie Police Station have revealed nothing. She said she was further advised to check the court, but when she did, she was asked to call back later.
Alexander described Gerald as a “cool guy, no friends, always by himself”. He said Gerald was a carpenter by trade but when he was unemployed, he did gardening and any other work.
“He will never talk or chat with you… but he will hail you if you call to him. He had no confrontation with anyone. He don’t look for trouble… always by himself,” Alexander added.
Gerald’s mother, 70-year-old Celine Antoine, expressed similar sentiments.
“Anything I tell him to do he do. He never tell me no,” she said.
Celine said she last saw her son about two hours before he got shot when he brought a meal for her. She said she received the news of his death Sunday night.
Relatives believe the killer was trailing Gerald all afternoon then hid at the residence.
“The person was watching him at his home,” said his mother.
Gerald was Celine’s last son of eight children.
No one has been arrested for this latest homicide.