Monday, February 19, 2018

Beetham man shot dead, home burned

MINUTES after scores of police officers cleared out of Beetham Gardens yesterday morning, a man was murdered and his home burned to the ground.

The bold midday attack is believed by some residents to have been either a reprisal or a warning, based on informant activity connected to the victim's family.

Darryl Daniel, 35, was at home with his mother, Carol Daniel, 59, when he was fatally shot and the fire started by two men.

The Daniel residence had been searched by the police earlier in the morning, leading to speculation that a member of the house was suspected of "informing" on someone else in Beetham Gardens during the police raid.

Carol Daniel was washing clothes when the men approached, one carrying a bucket of liquid.

The man with the bucket said: "Mums, move from here," and began to splash the liquid about the house.

Darryl Daniel is said to have attempted to stop the man when the other assailant pulled out a gun and shot him in the stomach and left arm.

One of the men then tossed a lighted object into the house and the blaze was set.

A massive police contingent, which had been in and around Beetham Gardens conducting raids since three o'clock yesterday morning, had only just left the area.

Several carloads of officers were able to turn around and be on the scene within minutes.

When the Express arrived, neighbours were running towards the burning house, some shouting there may be children inside.

"It have four children living there; I hope to God all went to school," one woman said as she ran past.

Darryl Daniel, still alive at the time, was seen being placed in a police vehicle by several officers, assisted by a woman.

The Express was told Daniel had been pulled from the burning house by a female friend.

It was barely ten minutes later that the blaze engulfed the house, bringing the mostly wooden structure to the ground.

In the yard, ashes settled on piles of bricks that Carol Daniel was said to have been buying, piecemeal fashion, to rebuild the house.

Heat from the blaze could be felt on the Priority Bus Route (PBR) where traffic slowed as motorists and commuters stared at the scene.

Officers from the Western Division of the Fire Service, who also arrived around that same time, were unable to drive their fire trucks down the narrow driveway that led to the house.

Hoses were instead extended from the main street and from a truck parked on the PBR. Though it took just minutes to bring the blaze under control, the house could not be saved.

No one else was found in the house after police and fire officers spent almost an hour trying to locate any other occupants.

Neighbours who had gathered when the blaze started scattered shortly after the arrival of the police, staying mum even on the name of the victim or any others who lived in the house.

"Is we to catch when the police gone," said one elderly woman.

"We don't know anything. We not looking for we house to burn down, too."

One officer said it is becoming increasingly difficult to work on cases related to areas such as Beetham Gardens as residents and witnesses refuse to "get involved".

As most police officers left and the remaining team cordoned off the crime scene, fire officers packed up, saying they could not stay in a "hot spot" without full police presence.

One fire officer said they had been recently threatened at the scene of a fire in a similar community, with officers being told to "leave that fire alone or be shot".

—See photo on Page 9