Mourning ceremony held for Haitian mission director and American couple killed in gang violence

Hundreds of individuals gathered in a hot church in the capital of Haiti on Tuesday to pay their respects to Judes Montis, a mission director who tragically lost his life at the hands of gang members. The somber atmosphere was marked by the echoes of sorrowful cries filling the packed church, while tears cascaded down the face of Montis’ grieving wife. (AP video by Pierre Luxama)

Hundreds of people gathered in a hot church in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Tuesday to pay their respects to Judes Montis, a mission director who was tragically killed by gang members. The assailants also took the lives of an American couple who were working alongside him.

The early morning service in the crowded church was filled with wails, as tears streamed down Montis’ wife’s face. During the service, the lives of Davy and Natalie Lloyd, a young married couple in their early 20s, were also honored. They were with Montis when gunmen ambushed them on Thursday night, as they were leaving a youth group activity organized by a local church.

Montis, aged 47, is survived by his wife, two children (aged 2 and 6), and a brother who was present during the tragic incident.

As the crowd dressed in black and white made its way from the church to the cemetery, one mourner cried out, “We’ll always remember you and the trail you blazed for others!”

Just days after the tragic deaths of the three individuals in a gang-controlled area of Port-au-Prince, a memorial service was held to honor them. This area was where Montis, the local director of Missions in Haiti, a religious organization founded by Davy Lloyd’s parents, worked.

“We are currently going through the most challenging period of our lives,” Missions in Haiti expressed in a recent Facebook post. They further added, “We are incredibly grateful for all the prayers and support we have received.”

Esuaue Montis, the 43-year-old Spanish teacher with the mission, revealed to The Associated Press that he was in close proximity to the shootings. He witnessed the arrival of the gunmen and quickly sprang into action. Montis utilized a truck to block the gate before leading a group of orphans and employees as they made their escape.

His phone rang just as he was about to lose hope. To his surprise, it was his friend, the same person he had frantically contacted earlier, eager to share the details of the predicament.

“One of the gunmen menacingly commanded Montis to pick up the phone, emphasizing the gravity of the call by stating, ‘This call is going to determine your fate,'” he recollected.

Esuaue Montis’ friend falsely claimed that he did not work at the orphanage.

Montis recounted the incident, stating that the gunman returned his phone and promptly left the scene.

He has not returned to the school where he worked for the organization and is currently seeking to leave Haiti.

“How am I supposed to carry on with my work at the orphanage without Jude by my side?” Esuaue Montis sobbed. “My brother was always there for me, constantly checking up on me. Whenever I stepped out in the afternoon, he would call and ask, ‘Brother, where are you?'”

According to Montis, the mission had never faced any threats in the past. He also mentioned that the gang members in the area would occasionally approach them for small handouts.

Missions in Haiti reported that the U.S. Embassy is currently working on acquiring the necessary documents for the transportation of the Lloyds’ bodies to the United States. They also mentioned that in light of the situation, the embassy has taken measures to relocate its staff and others to a safer location. Meanwhile, Jude Montis was laid to rest in Port-au-Prince.

According to a recent Facebook post by Cassidy Anderson, a family spokesperson, the transportation has been fully secured. However, due to security concerns, no further details will be disclosed.

Natalie Lloyd, 21, shares a strong bond with her father, Missouri state Rep. Ben Baker. In a heartfelt Facebook post, Rep. Baker revealed that he received a phone call from none other than former U.S. President Donald Trump. The purpose of the call was to offer his heartfelt condolences to the grieving family.

Baker wrote about how deeply sorry he was for the tragedy that befell our children and praised their unwavering dedication to their mission and the people of Haiti.

During a recent interview with the AP, Hannah Cornett, the sister of Davy Lloyd, shared memories of their upbringing in Haiti. Being the children of full-time missionaries, they spent their formative years in the country. Cornett fondly remembers how her brother, Davy, learned Creole before he even spoke English.

According to her, her parents are responsible for running an orphanage, school, and church in Haiti. She mentioned how she and her brothers had the opportunity to grow up alongside the orphans.

The Haiti National Police strongly denounced the killings in an uncommon statement and expressed their heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. They have committed themselves to apprehending those accountable for these heinous crimes.

Arrests of Haitian gangs involved in high-profile kidnappings or killings are infrequent due to the chronic lack of resources and understaffing within the police department. The capital city of Haiti is largely controlled by gangs, with at least 80% of it under their influence. As the country eagerly anticipates the arrival of a Kenyan police force, which has been further delayed, violence persists without any signs of abating.

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