Homicide investigators and the family of Donald Beckles made a plea to the public to solve the senseless slaying of the father of two.
“We know there are members of the community who have information, we know there are people who witnessed the murder and also saw the vehicle,” said Detective Murray Barnes, who is investigating the murder of the 46-year-old Jamestown resident. “The killers of Donald Beckles do not deserve the protection of community silence.”
Beckles was shot and killed outside his home at 11 p.m. on March 30, while smoking a cigarette at his front door.
“Make no mistake, Donald was an innocent man. He had no ties or affiliations with any gangs or any issues with the police,” said Barnes, who added that he was killed because he was the first person the shooters saw.
Police released video of the suspects running out of a dark-coloured four-door car as they got out to shoot Beckles, then running back into the car to escape.
Beckles’ mother and cousin made emotional appeals to the community to come forward with any information they may have.
His mother, Edith, spoke of forgiveness for the killers of her son.
“I am angry but not to the state of unforgiveness… I pray that that person who murdered my son, if this is their first senseless act of taking a life, I pray that is their last.”
Make no mistake, Donald was an innocent man. He had no ties or affiliations with any gangs or any issues with the police
Beckles’ cousin, Gordon, also asked community members to take a hard look at themselves, referring to those who are withholding information, protecting the killers of his cousin.
“I would like to remind people in the community that, often in life, we make poor choices and we look around and we blame places and people and circumstances, but when you get down to reality of it all, it’s not the things that we encounter that torture us, that keep us up at night that make us full of fear and bitterness and resentment. It’s the things we are accountable for, it’s the things we are doing wrong,” said Gordon.
“I am asking people to really take a look at themselves and look at what choices they are making in their lives and how they are impacting others, take it seriously because this was senseless, completely senseless,” he said.
Beckles was described by his mother as her “hands and feet”, tearing up as she spoke of her son. Edith said his death was very hard on her.
“I have health issues, my other son died ten months ago in his sleep… on Wednesday (Donald) was supposed to come over to my apartment and help with cleaning. He pays my bills, he does my banking, he does everything that I need… he is a quiet loving man…he is a good man, a good man,” said his mother crying.
I am asking people to really take a look at themselves and look at what choices they are making in their lives and how they are impacting others, take it seriously because this was senseless, completely senseless
Beckles, was like a window to the world for his wife, who is also hearing impaired, and two children said a local community pastor, Allan Bowen. Bowen appealed to the community to speak up.
“I know there were eyewitnesses…that community never sleeps, especially at 11 o’clock at night…someone saw something ,” said Bowen. He added that, if people had information, they could come forward in a way that keeps them safe – through the anonymous tips line at Crime Stoppers.
Detective Barnes said the investigation was going to continue but any information “no matter how small” would assist the police. “I understand that some people have issues coming to police and are worried and I can understand that…but you just need to take a look at Edith and the Beckles family and weigh up that conscience of why you are keeping information to yourself.”
According to the detective, Beckles, who was hearing impaired, most likely did not hear his killers come up towards him when they shot him. The position of his body at his front door also indicated that the father of two did not have the time or opportunity to run from his killers.
“He didn’t have a chance to run, he didn’t run, he was just gunned down in the doorstep of his own house, having a cigarette,” said Barnes.
According to Gordon, Beckles was a person who was living with difficult circumstances but he didn’t run away from them.
“Where most people, most able-bodied people, with tons of resources would have turned around and said ‘Oh I can’t handle this, I don’t like what is going on around me’ and gotten up and walked away. He chose to stay…he was the real thing.”