A neighborhood block party took a deadly turn on Thursday night when a man was shot and killed on Willow Tree Avenue in Pinewood Gardens.
Police said officers arrived to the area after 11 p.m. to discover Joel Russell, who was reportedly in his early-30s, with gunshots wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene, police reported.
Witnesses of the incident said Russell died in front of a neighborhood grocery store.
Don Lockhart, 59, a distant cousin of the victim and the owner of the store, said, “I watched him gasp his last breath from upstairs on my roof. I was looking down at him. Whether cousin or [not], I don’t care who he was, he was a Bahamian and human being and they need to start hanging. Hang, hang every day. Hang. I’ve had enough of this bull.”
He added: “This guy [was] an awesome, decent young fellow but you don’t [have] to be decent to go.”
Lockhart said he heard gunshots shortly after he closed up his store.
“After I closed, I went upstairs…and sat there and looked at the clock,” he said.
“It was 11:22 p.m. on the clock so I said, ‘I missed the ZNS news [and] I’ll catch the channel TV 12 news at 11:30 p.m.’ In split seconds after that, just saying that in my mind, a couple of shots went off.”
He said his first reaction was to listen for more shots.
Lockhart said he then decided to look outside his front door to see what had happened.
“The crowd was running here, there and everywhere,” he said.
Phantella Kelly, 31, who has lived on Willow Tree Avenue for three years, said the incident took place at a neighborhood party.
She said a relative of her landlord had a “party in the back” on Thursday night.
“The neighbors, all of us were invited to go,” Kelly said.
“I didn’t [go] because I wasn’t feeling well. I was sleeping. My son heard it. He heard the gunshots because they [were] coming from the party and then he [ran] out to see what [had happened] then I [got woken] up out [of] my sleep. He died right there in front of the shop.”
She said Russell, who lived in her building, was “a quiet person” who didn’t bother with a lot of people.
“I know he told me he wanted to move,” she said.
“You know, that’s why I don’t understand how that happen. He [told] me a lot of guys were hating on him and stuff like that so I don’t understand how that [happened] to him like that.”
Kelly said she has a 14-year-old son and the murder of Russell has left her feeling unsafe in the area.
“That’s my only child, that’s why I’m ready to go,” she said.
“He had to see all of that; the rowing between the guys [and] the end result.”
Police said a 29-year-old man from the Kennedy Subdivision is in custody in connection with the murder.
This incident marks the second murder for 2019.