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CASE NOT CLOSED – ‘Hit’ and run

Antoinette Connell

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Each week the Case Not Closed desk will revisit some of the most intriguing cold cases that continue to baffle investigators. This week we examine the death of Jerry Grant. Anyone with information on this or any other case should contact the Crime Desk at 253-4871 or the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-TIPS (8477).  A reward is given for information that leads to the solving of a crime.
Was teenager Jerry Grant a hitman for a local gang?According to a court investigating the death of one of Grant’s victims, he was!But who killed the 18-year-old two weeks after Carl Lashley’s death remains a mystery.At the time of his own death Grant was a wanted man. But did someone else put a higher price on the head of the hired gun who seemed to glory in the alias “Hitman”?The 2004 inquest into the murder of  33-year-old Lashley exposed the previously suppressed darkest secrets of life as a gang member. Tales of executions, illicit drug dealing and double-crossing were not an exciting recap of a blockbuster movie, but a true account of life-and-death drama within the “fraternity”.Lashley, who died of chest injuries after being pumped with several shots on November 16, 1999, was the prime focus of the inquest. But the more the evidence came out, the more the attention shifted to the less than exemplary life led by Grant.The following is an excerpt from newspaper reports on Lashley’s inquest:Witnesses said Lashley was giving someone a ride in his car when Grant shot at the car in an attempt to kill the passenger, and Lashley confronted him about it. The day he died, Lashley went to Gooding Enterprises to complete business and also visited his daughter who lived nearby.  was riding a powerful Honda motorcyle and stopped to enquire about his bill for drinks he had taken on commission. While his bill was being totalled he rode off to see his daughter. One man, who was working in the shop and knew Lashley well, said Grant was known in the area as “Hitman” because of his “services” for the gang that terrorised Deacons. The witness left Lashley in the store and went to assist a shopper with groceries. While returning he stopped to talk to a friend. Lashley rode by, followed a minute later by Grant on a mountain bike and wearing a peaked cap pulled over his forehead as if hiding his face. The man said he spoke to Grant, who returned the greeting and continued, apparently trailing Lashley. The witness said as he moved off he heard about eight explosions like gunshots, and as he got to the shop there was a strong smell of gunpowder and the two shop assistants appeared in shock. He found Lashley on the pavement, his bike beside him. Another witness said she heard the explosion and saw a young man with a peaked cap going towards a mountain bike while putting a gun in his waistband. She was threatened by Grant sometime later. Another woman said she knew who shot Lashley, but would not confirm it because she had been threatened. A third witness said she had been threatened, but during the hearing (inquest) identified Grant as the shooter. Lashley, of Passage Gardens, Passage Road, St Michael, was laid off, and suspicions of his drug pushing, though strong, were never confirmed. They were fuelled, the court said, by the inability of relatives to account for Lashley’s apparent wealth and lifestyle, and by the demeanour he carried of a drug lord.Few motivesWhile some witnesses were afraid to come forward, fearing reprisals as a result of Grant’s link with the Red Sea gang, a few motives for the killing did emerge. One claim was that Lashley and the Red Sea gang were in a drug deal that soured. Another was that the two had a confrontation a few days prior to the killing.Police recovered a 9 mm Cobra stashed in an apartment linked to the Red Sea and it turned out to be a match to the gun that killed Lashley. One note of interest, the weapon was apparently stashed by another member of the gang who was also fatally gunned down.Grant’s family admitted he had a bad boy reputation, but always maintained that he was home the day of Lashley’s killing. Pool of bloodOn December 13, 1999, Grant lay face down in a pool of blood at Industry Road, in Bank Hall, his body riddled with bullets.He was standing alone in a shadowy track when a man sneaked up on him, discharging several bullets into his back before vanishing in the darkness. Police considered, among other things, that the death was a revenge killing as a result of a three-day dispute. Word on the ground was that Grant’s killer – in this chain of assassins – might also have met his end staring down a gun barrel. There has been no official word on it. • [email protected]