The sight of police officers armed with machine guns, shotguns, bulletproof vests and riot staffs seemed to anger the women further, as they again accused the police of failing to find Tecia when she went missing last Saturday. They even cursed the officers, who arrested no one.
“You all come up here in numbers now. Where were all these officers when the little girl was missing?” shouted one woman. Another woman defied an officer as he blocked her from descending the steps into Cook Street, John John, which had been cordoned off with police tape.
“Shoot me, shoot me, you do not look like you have any children. You do not know how this feels,” she shouted.
The enraged women even began throwing water on the officers, who continued to keep their cool. Many women cried and said they too had daughters Tecia’s age and did not know what they would do if their children had been killed.
Violent grief briefly gave way to cheers and applause as Tecia’s mother Diane Henry and father Lynton James shared a comforting embrace on the stairs leading to a platform.
Some residents looked on from their balconies at Block One, opposite the short track leading to the house where Tecia’s body was found at Le Plaisance Terrace.
Tensions rose when two young men began fighting on the steps of the building and heavily armed officers separated them but they let them go.
As residents took in what was taking place at Cook Street, opportunistic bandits struck neighbouring homes in the Block Eight and John John areas, making off with a number of electronic items including DVD players and television sets. According to some residents, their neighbours became victims of these “break-ins” as many left their houses open and unattended.
Late yesterday afternoon, Acting Police Commissioner James Philbert visited Block Eight, to establish a police post to allay fears that tensions could spill over into a gang war.
The post has been established at the corner of La Plaisance Terrace and the entrance to Block Eight in John John.
Philbert and Assistant Police Commissioner Gilbert Reyes met with residents and listened to their complaints.
Philbert said Tecia’s death gave rise to questions about the safety of the children in the area.
“There have been some concerns here for a long time. The fact that the girl has been found dead here has raised further questions about the safety of the people and the children in the area. There is a tension that has been built up here with suspicion,” said Philbert.
He said the purpose of the police post was to remove any idea of revenge and to have a closer working relationship with the residents.
According to Philbert, there would be a “reasonable” number of officers at the post while patrols in the area would continue.
Residents said they were grateful for the police post and for the visit from Philbert. One resident said she felt proud to shake Philbert’s hand while others dubbed him the “Commissioner of the People” rather than of the police.