Lone shooting survivor still mourns gunned down fiancée and sister

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By Latrishka Thomas

The only survivor of the vicious shooting attack by Calvin ‘Burga’ James in 2018, Lawrence James, says he still mourns the loss of his fiancée Sanchezca Charles – and hopes his uncle gets life in prison for killing his “peach” along with his sister Tahisha Thomas.

“Me min really a push for the death penalty but me nuh t’ink it possible, but as long as he get life in prison me feel kinda alright with that still. At least my mind kinda little bit at ease,” James told the media.

The 57-year-old defendant admitted to killing his niece, Thomas, and his nephew’s girlfriend, Charles, in cold blood, as well as shooting his nephew, James, in 2018.

In 2015, Calvin James admitted to attempting to murder another niece, Amanda James, and wounding his sister, Ineta Liburd, with intent. He was out on bail when the fatal incident occurred three years later.

He was due to be sentenced for both matters yesterday but the case was adjourned until March 12 after family members stepped into the witness box as part of a victim impact assessment.

Lawrence James was the first to take the stand yesterday and he could not contain his tears as he spoke about his fiancée who died in his arms.

He said that “things haven’t been the same” and revealed that he and Charles had big plans for their future together.

However, while his nephew was in tears, Burga could be seen chuckling, shaking his head and behaving in a dismissive manner.

In fact, Burga sucked his teeth when he saw his nephew crying.

Margaret Smith, Thomas’s grandmother, told the court that she had raised 22-year-old Thomas since she was seven years old. She described her granddaughter as being “the only person I think I ever loved more than my children”.

Smith told the court that she had been overseas but returned to Antigua in September 2018 upon Thomas’s request that she be there for her birthday. But the young woman never lived to see 23.

Evelyn Jeffrey, Charles’s aunt, conveyed the family’s pain saying “Sanchezca wasn’t involved in their [Burga’s] family feud”.

While wrestling with her emotions she said, “I wish…somebody hang him or shoot him the same way he did Sanchezca… I want justice for Sanchezca.”

Liburd – Burga’s sister and the mother of both Thomas and Lawrence James – shared her thoughts and feelings in a lengthy voice message.

 She explained that since the incident she has needed regular therapy, suffers terrible nightmares and is “sick over the whole situation”.

She added that her entire life has been ruined because of Burga who she says “knows exactly what he is doing”.

Charles’ mother, Iretha Jeffrey, spoke via telephone from Barbuda. She shared that her daughter and oldest child was peaceful, harmless, friendly and caring.

She added that “the painful and heartbreaking” incident has since caused her difficulty sleeping and eating.

Burga was represented by lawyer Justin Simon QC who said the convict was “not generally” dangerous, had pleaded guilty at the earliest convenience, and did not have a history of violence.

Simon claimed Burga has a flamboyant personality that people love, and had been helpful to children in the community.

The QC also revealed that Burga previously worked with him as a security officer and staff never complained about him being a threat.

Simon added that his client is not unhinged and does not require psychological treatment, but rather, his actions were due to a constant issue with his sister, Liburd, which escalated to where his children had been barred from walking from his home, through hers, despite it being the ordinary path for them to get out of the yard.

However, Burga appeared to make his case worse when he asked to speak, communicating his anger and frustration loudly and via hand gestures.

He said his actions were not premeditated and that he only brought a gun to the home to protect his money.

According to him, his nephew was coming into his home to shower and so he shot him but not with the intention of killing him.

He added that James and Charles made attempts to beat his girlfriend in the past.

Furthermore, he said that his sister, Liburd, owes him an apology for destroying his family.

“I’m not stupid, I’m not crazy, I’m not a lunatic…I’m a sensible guy…I’m not a terrorist, I’m not ISIS,” the convict told the court.

Upon hearing Burga speak, the judge said he didn’t express a hint of remorse, but rather displayed the demeanour of a man who is still aggrieved and outraged about property and something as minuscule as someone taking a shower in his home.

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