A black Christmas looms for a Phoenix family after a dad was shot dead and his eight-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old, believed to be his niece, sustained gunshot wounds and had to be hospitalised on Sunday night, following a drive-by shooting on Southbury Drive.
Vernon John (33), was shot nine times, according to police and died at the scene.
According to a Phoenix SAPS spokesperson, the deceased was seated in a vehicle with the children when unknown suspects opened fire on them. “The incident unfolded at about 7:32pm on Sunday evening. The deceased sustained nine gunshot wounds to the chest, head and legs and died at the scene. The nine-year-old was shot twice on the lower back and right side of the body. The eight-year-old was shot three times on the chest, arm and on the side. The vehicle in which Vernon John and children were seated in that was shot by unknown suspects Both victims are in a stable condition in hospital.
The motive for the shooting is unknown at this stage and a murder and two attempted murder cases are under investigation,” said the police spokesperson. A concerned member of the community and family acquaintance, who wished to remain anonymous said, “The shooting appears to be a hit and is turf-war related. It is unacceptable that two children were gunned down in this manner. “If there is an ongoing vendetta, it should not involve innocent children. The police need to hunt these killers and bring them to book. They must pay for attacking innocent children in cold-blood.”
Phoenix Community Policing Forum chairman, Umesh Singh said, “Whatever the motive for the shooting, children have been critically injured through callous actions.
This is unacceptable in our society. Children should in no way be brought into the dealings involving adults. Police will meticulously investigate the cases and those responsible for this heinous act will face the long arm of the law.
Members of the community reacted with shock to the tragic news of John’s untimely death and took to Facebook to express their sentiments. “In shock. RIP. Our beloved brother/friend from primary school to high school. Always had respect for us girls in school. Shocked, so sad. Rip Vernon John my homeboy from back in the day.”