Woman injured in Gregory Park firebombing dies

GREGORY Park was robbed of a matriarch on Tuesday afternoon when Naomi Gocul, the elderly woman who was badly burnt in the recent firebombing of 11 houses inside a tenement yard on Walker’s Avenue in Gregory Park, St Catherine, succumbed to her injuries at hospital.

Gocul, 72, is the second person to die from the firebombing and shooting incident which occured on August 12.

The first to die was 28-year-old taxi operator Raneel Haughton, after he was shot by men who came to torch the dwellings.

More than 40 people were left homeless after their houses were destroyed.

Gocul’s daughter, Karona, who took her from the burning house, told the Jamaica Observer on August 16 that her mother’s condition was worsening day by day in hospital and said she feared the worst for her.

Karona had recounted for the Observer how, after running out of her own burning house with her children, she remembered that hat her mother was probably asleep in her house on the same property. Not seeing the elderly woman, Karona forced her way into the dwelling of her mother who was on a found on the floor, badly burned. Karona quickly rescued her from the burning building and she was subsequently taken to hospital.

Karona had shared that her mother had spoken to relatives shortly after arriving at hospital, but all talking from her eventually ceased — a bad sign for the family.

The Observer tried to get comments from the grieving daughter on Tuesday afternoon but efforts to contact her by telephone were futile.

Member of Parliament for St Catherine East Central Alando Terrelonge told the Observer on Tuesday afternoon that the family, devastated by the loss, has assumed a sombre mood as they mourn Gocul’s death.

“The attack on Walkers Avenue was an attack on our democracy and our very right to be free, to live free. Naomi turned 72 in June. She was affectionately known throughout Gregory Park and Kingston as ‘Miss Sweeny’. She was a matriarch in the community. She was well-loved; she was a mother, grandmother and somebody who opened up her heart and home to everyone in Gregory Park. She always had a passion to feed people, and she always had a place for people to stay at Walkers Avenue. It really is a very tragic day in Gregory Park, Portmore, and in Jamaica,” Terrelonge said.

“The reason that caused Miss Sweeny to lose her life is a selfless act of terrorism that is based in hate. There was absolutely no reason for these terrorists to trap Miss Sweeny in her home and burn her home and prevent her from leaving her house. While we were there this morning, scores of people gathered at the premises just to pay respects to the memory of Miss Sweeny and just to give comfort to the family,” Terrelonge added, sharing that he has been visiting with the family very regularly since the incident, just to show support and provide as much comfort to them as possible at this time.

“Properties can be replaced but these heartless terrorists have taken a matriarch away from her family and the community. The family is in pain and literally agonising at the loss of their mom. We were really hoping as a community that she would pull through,” the MP said.