Murdered man ‘had been trying to escape his past’

A man who was shot and killed shortly after 11 p.m. on Sunday in Gambier Heights “had a past” that he was trying to get away from, according a close relative.

Desmond Smith, 39, was shot and killed while out “having a good time” with his 18-year-old son.

Smith’s mother, Sharon Sturrup, 62, said her son was trying to take a different path in life.

“He been to jail, but he did change,” Sturrup said.

According to police, when officers arrived on the scene in Gambier Heights, they found the victim lying outside a business.

A video circulating on social media purportedly of the incident shows a large crowd, including motorcyclists.

Approximately 10 seconds into that video what appear to be gunshots are heard and people are seen scattering.

In another video, a man’s body is lying in the road with a police officer and bystanders looking on.

Smith’s mother showed The Nassau Guardian the video during an interview at her home in Yellow Elder Gardens.

She has suffered several strokes in the past, with the most recent in 2019, leaving her in a wheel chair and affecting her speech.

“He used to take care of me,” Sturrup said. “He used to bring me breakfast, bathe me. Now, who is going to take care of me?”

Sturrup said her son, who had five children, went to jail for drugs, but she insisted he didn’t commit more serious crimes.

Smith’s cousin, Torsha McKenzie, 34, said he was trying to get away from his past life.

“He had his ways, I can say that; but he was all about making money, and his kids,” McKenzie said.

“Everyone [has] a past. He wanted to come out of that past. But we all know when we come out of the past, the past still is come into our present. So, that’s how it was. I don’t know him to be out here looking for problems, but I know when problems come at him, he is there for that.”

Smith is the second son Sturrup has lost to gun violence.

Her son, Tyrone Beneby, was shot and killed in Pinewood Gardens in 2014.

“My cousin died, his brother, a few years back, due to gun violence,” McKenzie said.

“He (Smith) is always trying to be the person not to be in that spotlight, but police always put him in that spotlight, when he tried to be out that spotlight. He was always a person that loved to have fun and to enjoy life. That was him. That’s what I know him as.

“It’s still tough when you trying to do better; it’s still tough. You could be a Christian, you could find God, but it’s still tough to get out of the past because people label you as your past now that you are trying to do better in your present.

“We [were] close cousins and it’s stressful. Now I understand for many years why people, when they lose someone to gun violence, it is very serious because it also causes retaliation and all that stuff. When people try to change, it doesn’t make a difference because when your past is your past, your present affects your past. That’s how I feel.”

McKenzie said she is trying to grasp what happened to her cousin.

“It ain’t real; it ain’t feel real,” she said.

“I mean, I don’t want it to be real, but it don’t feel real.”

Smith’s killing was the 14th murder for 2023, according to The Nassau Guardian’s records.

It came just a few hours after police discovered the body of a man in his early 20s with gunshot wounds on South Beach, Baillou Hill Road South.

Police said the man was wearing a white T-shirt and black pants. He didn’t have identification on him.

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