PREVAL’S GANGS RESPONSIBLE? American killed in Haiti
BY NADEGE CHARLES AND JACQUELINE CHARLES
Family members of a South Florida man were completing funeral arrangements Monday after he was killed while on vacation in Haiti and his 16-year-old cousin was kidnapped.
Gregoire-Ronald Chery, 56, a Haitian fraud investigator with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was shot to death Friday night outside a cousin’s home in Pelerin, family members said.
Pelerin is a niche neighborhood in the hills above Petionville, with middle class and wealthy homes behind walls.
Born in Jeremie, Chery emigrated to New York in 1965 with his family and later moved to Miami in 1977. He lived in Sunrise.
“We’re working to bring his body home by Wednesday,” his sister Ula Zucker said. “We’re praying for Nadege.”
Nadege Charlot, a Haitian native who lived in the home, was kidnapped and is being held for ransom. Kidnappers were demanding $100,000 on Monday for her safe return, family members said.
“She got to speak with her mom,” Zucker said. “Nadege was crying. She said they beat her and burned her feet.”
`TOOK THE CHILDREN’
In the last two months, Frantz Lerebours of the Haitian National Police said, “We had two to three cases where people entered the home and took the children” in that area. The family was likely singled out because they also had relatives visiting from abroad.
“In Haiti, whenever the diaspora is in town, they think there’s money in the house,” Chery’s brother, Pierre Jarmil Chery of Plantation, said by telephone from Haiti.
Pierre Jarmil Chery said that around 10 p.m. Friday, three armed men stormed the gated home, two held up Chery at gunpoint while another tied remaining relatives inside and raided the home. The identity of the men remain a mystery.
“One put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger,” Pierre Jarmil Chery said. “It jammed. I should be dead, too.”
Ever the Haiti enthusiast, Chery was visiting his homeland with his mother and brother despite reports of growing violence and gang activity.
The U.S. State Department issued a travel warning in June to people visiting Haiti.
“We strongly urge all Americans in Haiti to exercise caution. Americans are reminded that there remains a persistent danger of violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide, and kidnapping in Haiti,” Jon Piechowski, a U.S. Embassy spokesman, said.
Some family members tried to persuade Chery to remain in Florida. But Haiti was his country, and he looked forward to the getaway every year.
“I asked him not to go,” Zucker said.
“I just felt like it was unsafe.”
NEVER GOING BACK
For some family members, the pain is unbearable and they vow never to return to Haiti.
“It’s a place I never want to see again in my life,” Chery’s son, Gregoire-Ronald Chery II, said. “My dad never yelled, he was always friendly. They killed him and kidnapped a child.”
In addition to his son, Chery is survived by his daughters Cassandra Chery and Bianca Chery; mother, Viola Semxant-Zucker; and nine siblings.
A public viewing will be held at 5 p.m. Friday at Alfonso M. Richardson Funeral Services, 3790 NW 167th St., Opa-locka.