Slain cop had planned to leave the Force soon
KINGSTON –– It shouldn’t have ended this way –– the forever dream. The dream Felecia Preddie had of growing old with husband Orville, nurturing their two children into adults and having a hand in the upbringing of their grandchildren.
But the hand fate dealt would be heartbreakingly unlike the dream Felecia had envisioned. Although her husband’s duty as police officer placed him in the face of danger each time he left their Asia home in the parish of Manchester, it had never crossed Felecia’s mind during her husband’s ten years in the force that harm would actually come to him.
All she’s left with now to usher her into her golden years is 14 years of memories with her 34-year-old husband.
Last Thursday night her dream was shattered by gunmen during a robbery at the cop’s favourite hangout close to his home in South Manchester.
“I never think that something like this would happen, to tell the truth. I hear it all the while but I didn’t think this would happen to me. I never think my husband would die in the police force,” Felecia told the Jamaica Observer after the incident. “I never think that my husband would die, period.”
If Felecia didn’t think about life without her husband by her side, Orville, on the other hand, always had it in the back of his head, Felecia said, that he could die in the line of duty and leave his family. This concern formed part of his reason for wanting to leave the force he had so cheerfully joined years ago.
When Orville first learnt that he had aced the test to join the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF), he called his mother Donna Barrett and exclaimed elatedly: “Donna, no worry youself, you son a police! You big son a police!”
He had always wanted to be a police officer, but as the years wore on he became disenchanted by the killing of police officers. Felecia said he wanted to leave the force because “it wasn’t the same force” he joined earlier, and that he was “tired of it”. He had also recently started making preparation to emigrate and had applied for jobs overseas, Felecia said.
Felecia recalled her last conversation with her husband.
“I called and he said he was in Pusey Hill and said that him soon come. He never came –– and he’s not coming back,” Felecia said, pain and resignation etched in her voice.
She had placed that call to her husband around 8:30 on Thursday night. Sometime after that, Orville was sitting in the Nite Life shop and bar eating a bun he had just purchased and playing dominoes with friends. The conversation mainly surrounded women as the men joked among themselves. At one point a friend took to teasing Orville –– who is also called Gaza Blacks –– and offered him his jacket when he complained about feeling cold.
The cop has been a well loved figure in the community in which he and his family made their home approximately three years ago, after moving from Milk River in the neighbouring parish of Clarendon. He had gained the respect and adoration of the community because of his efforts to enhance lives there. He was known for the staging of a summer treat for children there and had developed a community football competition in which he played as the goalkeeper for the Gaza Strikers.
“He was trying to see how he could help develop the community,” said a community co-ordinator who asked not to be named. She added: “He’s not one of those police who act as if they are better than other people.”
As the night progressed, Orville asked that the windows of the shop be closed. One of the men got up to close the windows and door so they could continue playing board game, as is their routine, and saw three armed men running towards the shop.
The gunmen declared that it was a robbery, proceeded to relieve that man of his cash and cellphone, ordered everybody to the floor and robbed them as well. But Orville was still sitting with his arms folded.
“A weh dah boy deh a hide?” one of the gunmen reportedly asked.
“Everything cool, man,” Orville responded.
“Search him,” one of the criminals ordered.
Orville didn’t resist as one of the men rifled through his pockets after hitting him.
“See him ID, yah. The bwoy a police,” said the searcher.
“Kill him,” the heartless order came.
Felecia was doing the dishes and awaiting her husband’s arrival when someone came with the gut-wrenching news, that sent her into uncontrollable bawling. Her hollering drew the attention of her neighbour, who asked someone to accompany her to the scene. When she arrived, residents wouldn’t allow her inside the shop.
The Asia police were called immediately after the incident but reportedly could not come to take their injured colleague to the hospital because no vehicle was available. Officers from the Mandeville Police Station, which is a great distance away, got there first.
When she was eventually allowed in, it was to identify her husband’s lifeless body, blood pooling around his head and neck.
She was now left with the task of explaining to their eight-year-old daughter that daddy would not be coming home, not tonight, not for Christmas, not ever.
Felicia broached the subject with her the following morning and the child broke down immediately.
“Him dead, as in dead?” she asked.
“As in you cannot see him any more,” Felicia responded.
She didn’t have to go through the process with their son, who is just 18-months-old. Orville also died leaving a teenager from another relationship.
On Friday, relatives, friends and colleagues of the slain cop descended on the couple’ss home to express condolences and offer comfort.
“Where do I go from here?” Felecia said in response to a question from the Observer.
She then added sarcastically: “All me know me get a Christmas and New Year’s present in a one.”