Crown: Father gunned down son in ‘hail of bullets’

| 12/06/2022
Cayman News Service
Shaquille Demario Bush

(CNS): Roger Deward Bush gunned down his 24-year-old son, Shaquille Demario Bush, at their family home in West Bay in a “hail of bullets”, prosecutor Andrew Radcliffe QC told the court Friday. Bush, who is now 47, has pleaded not guilty to murder. The crown’s case against him is that in November 2019, he chased his son around the yard with a 9mm handgun, firing some 15 shots and hitting him at least five times, motivated by a misplaced jealous obsession that his daughter was actually the biological child of his son. In a confession to his girlfriend, Bush claimed his son was armed.

But Radcliffe said Shaquille had been shot in the back. No gun was ever recovered from the murder scene and there was no evidence of a second weapon being fired; only the cartridges and casings from the weapon used to murder Shaquille were ever recovered by police.

“There is no evidence that he presented a threat to his father, who gunned him down in a hail of bullets,” Radcliffe told the court. He said that during the course of the trial the crown would combine the evidence that pointed to Bush as the killer and, “looked at in the round”, it was an “entirely compelling case against him”.

Shaquille Bush was murdered in the late afternoon of 12 November 2019. His father was arrested the next day but wasn’t charged until 18 months later. Bush’s girlfriend, Nikkieta Ebanks, and her friend, Candace Orrett Ebanks, finally came forward with evidence in 2021 that pointed to Bush as the killer. By that time, the case had stalled due to a lack of witness evidence to support police suspicions and circumstantial evidence that Shaquille’s father was his killer.

When the two women did come forward, they told police that Bush had confessed to both of them separately on a number of occasions and that they were both with Bush in the wake of the shooting. With the help of cellphone and CCTV evidence, which corroborated their information, police charged Bush with the murder of his son in June 2021.

As Radcliffe outlined the crown’s case against Bush, he revealed a clear motive. He told the court that for some time Bush had harboured and obsessed over a misplaced belief that the daughter he had with Ebanks was actually the biological daughter of his son. Roger Bush believed that Shaquille and his girlfriend were having an affair.

Bush and Ebanks had a volatile relationship and he often taunted her with the accusation. At times he was violent and angry in his allegations, while at other times he wept as a result of this misplaced jealousy. On the of the shooting, he had told Ebanks he wanted her to get their daughter a DNA test. While she had agreed to do it, in the end Bush changed his mind because he did not trust Ebanks and believed she might pay off the clinic to give a false result.

Based on CCTV footage, phone records, the national licence plate tracing system and evidence from Ebanks, the crown outlined the day of the murder. Bush, his daughter and Ebanks were running errands together in George Town. They were caught on CCTV at CashWiz, where Bush bought a mobile phone. They then all headed to West Bay in two cars, as they were planning to move back as a family to Bush’s home in Daisy Lane, where several other members of his family shared a complex of five houses.

Ebanks told police that when they arrived in West Bay, Bush called her and told her not to come to the yard right away but to go visit her friend, Candace Ebanks, in Mount Pleasant and he would call her later. So Ebanks took their daughter and went to her friend’s home.

According to the prosecution, Bush drove on to his house, and soon afterwards he gunned down his son.

Radcliffe said that one of the Bush family houses was rented to tenants who told police they heard shouting and arguments before they heard Shaquille Bush shout that all Jamaicans should leave the yard. The tenants did so, and as they headed down the lane and onto Hell Road, they heard gunshots.

Bush is believed to have chased Shaquille, firing at him from various locations around the yard. The young man lost his shoes as he tried to flee his father and the gun. But he was hit five or six times, mostly in the back, and one of those shots eventually brought him down. Two of the wounds he received, one to the head and one to his lower back, were potentially fatal and it is not known which one had actually killed him, but it was clear from the ballistic evidence that Bush had stood over his own son and “finished him off”, Radcliff said.

According to the crown’s case, which Radcliff said is supported by the movement of cars, people, phone messages and the evidence of both women, Bush left the family home on foot after the shooting but not before he had asked one of his family members to dispose of the gun. This was supported by the evidence of the car leaving the home, driving down to the waterfront, staying for a brief moment and then returning to the Daisy Lane yard. Soon afterwards, another member of the Bush family called 911.

Meanwhile, Bush had already called Ebanks and demanded that she immediately collect him from a spot along Hell Road. When she arrived, he said they should go to the beach to take their daughter for a swim. But they stayed only for a short time, and Ebanks told police that Bush immediately stripped naked, went into the sea and threw his clothes in the ocean. He then put on some clothes that were in the car and told Ebanks that they should all go to her mother’s house in Northward. When she asked what was going on, he told her to shut up.

At this point, Ebanks had no idea that Shaquille was dead.

But soon her phone began to ring and calls came through from friends about Shaquille being shot, and people made various allegations about who had killed him. One call, which came through on the speaker allowing Bush to hear, named him as the killer. When she asked him what was going on, he told her to pull over. They were close to the Lakeside apartments at the time, and as she stopped the car, he got out and fled across the highway into the apartment complex.

Ebanks said she drove around for about 45 minutes but could not find Bush, so she left town with her daughter and headed to her mother’s house. Upset and unnerved by the events, she called Candace and asked if she would come out to Northward so they could talk. When Candace arrived, the two women left Ebanks’ daughter safe with her mother and went out for a drive and talked about what had happened. As they did, Nikkieta Ebanks received a call from Wayne McLean’s phone.

Radcliffe said that McLean had given evidence and was supposed to have been a witness. However, in July 2021, a few weeks after Bush was charged and remanded in custody, McLean was shot and killed at Vic’s Bar in what was believed to be a gang-related shooting, in which five others were wounded.

On the night of 24 November, when Ebanks answered the call from McLean’s phone, it was Bush on the line. Radcliffe told the court that Bush’s own phone was never recovered and, according to the service provider’s records, was last used just minutes after Shaquille’s death.

Using McLean’s phone, he asked Ebanks to pick him up from the car park at Hurley’s. The two women went as asked. When they arrived, Bush was in McLean’s car wearing different clothes and carrying a gun in his waistband. He then got into the back of Nikkieta’s vehicle and lay down on the back seat. He was acting strangely and did not answer the women’s questions about what had happened. Instead, he asked Ebanks to drive to the ocean, where he removed the new clothes he was wearing and got in the sea.

Radcliffe told the court that this was evidence that he was attempting to clear himself of gunshot residue. He then dressed before asking Ebanks to take him to an address on Walkers Road, but changed his mind and asked her to take him to the hospital, before changing his mind again and eventually asking to go to West Bay. Once in the district, they went to Candace’s home, where he took both of the women’s phones and switched them off.

Although his son had now been dead for around six hours, Bush was showing no sign of grief and kept looking out of the window. He told Candace not to let anyone into her home, which she shared with her boyfriend, who was already in the house.

At some point during the night, Bush began to confess, saying he “had to do it”, that he had to teach his son a lesson. “He couldn’t stop f*cking with me,” he said. Bush told the women together and separately that Shaquille had begged for his life, that another member of the Bush family who was present had also begged for his son’s life. He also revealed that he had asked Moses Bush to “get rid of the thing”, meaning the gun. This evidence tied in with the movements on the national CCTV and licence plate tracing system of his car immediately after Bush was shot.

Sometimes he said Shaquille had a gun, at others that he had a knife or even some plastic piping, which he said Shaquille had hit him over the head with, though when Bush was arrested the following day he had no injuries.

The next morning Bush gave the women back their phones and told them he would “take them all down”, including their families, if they said anything. He was arrested soon afterwards but gave no-comment interviews and was eventually bailed as the police continued their investigation.

They eventually arrested Nikkieta on suspicion of aiding and abetting. Having secured a lawyer, she resolved to answer the police questions and tell them what she knew about Bush. But while she was in custody, and as noted in the custody record, she was visited in her cell by an auxiliary constable AC XXXX. That police officer told her out of earshot of other officers that she should not talk. “The boss man said you must say ‘no comment’,” he said. Ebanks later told police that when that happened, she was so shocked she asked him to repeat what he had said.

Terrified that Bush was able to reach inside the police, she lost her confidence and changed her mind about telling the officers what she knew. She denied helping or covering up for Bush and reverted to a no-comment interview. She, too, was soon bailed.

A few days later, Bush called and told her to pick him up. When she arrived at the location, he was with the same police officer who had delivered the message while she was detained. Bush made a point of ensuring that she saw them together. Radcliffe said that the police were able to gather other evidence that would be presented during the trial that AC XXXX and Bush were in contact with each other, including when Ebanks was in custody.

In the months that followed, Bush continued to threaten and intimidate Ebanks. He repeatedly told her that he had done what he had to, referring to the killing and the affair he believed she had had with his son. Bush began to talk about tying up loose ends, threatening the life of Candace Ebanks and her boyfriend. As a result, Nikkieta fled Cayman and went to the UK, but ran out of money and had to return.

She told police that one day, while at Bush’s yard, she had witnessed him with several other men around a table full of firearms, and it was then that she and Candace resolved to go to the police.

The case continues Monday before the presiding judge, Justice Marlene Carter, who is hearing evidence alone without a jury. Roger Bush is represented by defence attorney Lee Halliday-Davis of Brady Law, who has instructed Oliver Blunt QC of Furnival Chambers in London.

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