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Family puzzled by Bajan’s killing

Tony Best

Family puzzled by Bajan’s killing

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As grieving Barbadian relatives of Stevenson Blackett get ready to bury him in New York City this morning, they are asking why the killers felt it necessary to murder him.“If they had asked him for money and he had it on him, he would have given it to them,” said Carlisle Blackett, the dead man’s older brother, who recently retired after more than 30 years as an auditor in Canada’s public service in Ottawa. “He was a generous, easy-going Bajan who loved people and saw only good in everyone. There really wasn’t a reason for what they did,” he added.“Steven”, as family members called the 60-year-old plumbing contractor, was murdered almost ten days ago in his home in the predominantly West Indian community of Carnarsie in Brooklyn. His body is being interred in the family plot at Cypress Hills Cemetery in the city before midday after last night’s solemn funeral service in a crowded St Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in the heart of the Flatbush and Crown Heights. The funeral was attended by relatives from Barbados, Canada, the United Kingdom and across the United States who flew into New York City to say their final goodbyes.“I really can’t come to grips with this tragedy,” asserted Sylvia Reis, a tearful sister. “It was so senseless.”Less than three months after the Blacketts enjoyed a grand birthday bash that marked Stevenson’s milestone, relatives, led by his widow Brenda, 59, are overwhelmed with grief.“This is a tough time for us,” said Terrel Blackett, a daughter. “I have to be strong for my mum.”Blackett was shot twice in the head by intruders who broke into his home, apparently in search of money, which he never kept there.No one has been arrested in connection with the homicide, and a US$12 000 reward has been posted for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer.Police detectives investigating the death theorise that the criminals, believing he had cash stashed in the house, cut through the mesh, turned the knob and may have used a key the grandfather kept in the door for his grandchildren and entered the building. Cops also believe he may have struggled with the intruders who tied him up with rope. They based that assumption on the fact that a bullet was found embedded in a kitchen cabinet and rope was attached to one of his arms.That has led some relatives and others to speculate that Blackett was killed by someone known to the family.“I think it might have been someone we know,” said Desiree, another daughter. “Because how did they know about the key in the door? How did they know he was in the basement?”Blackett’s widow may also have had a quick look at the killers but so far she has declined to speak, fearing that they may return to silence her.Terrel said her mother first realised something had gone wrong when she heard noises and didn’t receive an answer when she called out to her husband. As she opened the door she saw two men trying to get through the front entrance.The deadly events apparently occurred in the wee hours of last Thursday morning when Blackett was sleeping in the basement and his wife and three grand-children were upstairs. He often slept in the basement on extremely warm and humid nights.In the relatively low-crime area where the family lived, the killing has residents in a state of shock.Lennox Price, Barbados’ Consul-General in New York, who lived in the area before he assumed duties two years ago, visited the grieving relatives.“It’s a real tragedy,” he said.