Soon after their daughter was murdered, Elonia and David Reynolds left Miami Gardens for Pembroke Pines. They were afraid of their own rage at the drug dealers perched on every corner. "I felt that I would see young boys on the street and run my car over them," says Elonia, a gravely soft-spoken nurse with a fading Jamaican accent. "My feeling was, Why are you able to be alive and not my child?"
Nearly two decades have passed since aspiring teacher Hilda LaToy Reynolds was gunned down while celebrating her 17th birthday on August 15, 1992. The shooters who descended on the Taste of the Islands nightclub in North Miami-Dade were after one target, a rival gangbanger, but opened fire on the entire dance floor. Four people, including Reynolds, were killed, and 17 were wounded.
The massacre was the modus operandi of the Shower Posse, a Jamaican gang named for the blind downpours of bullets it unleashed on enemies. Cops estimated the posse had murdered 1,400 people in this country.
It's the same guerrilla conglomerate that has thrown Jamaica into a national state of emergency. The posse's politically connected leader, Christopher "Dudus" Coke, has sparked a blood-soaked siege in the Kingston slum of Tivoli Gardens as he evades extradition to the United States. In the mid-'80s, the posse, helmed by Coke's father, Lester Lloyd Coke, established Jamaica as a transatlantic rest stop for cocaine smugglers headed to the Port of Miami.
They terrified the local Caribbean community with shootings like the one that claimed Reynolds's life. A few of the more brazen late-'80s hits: Shower Posse hit men opened fire on a packed Fireman's Benevolent Hall in Fort Lauderdale, wounding three and killing their target, a reggae DJ. They shot up a Bunche Park soccer match, killing pro soccer star Colin Fowles. Five people were murdered in a Posse-orchestrated Miami crackhouse massacre. Two posse henchman went down in a blaze of bullets as they tried to shoot themselves out of a police sting in a warehouse.
A RICO case eventually crippled the gang's Florida operation, and the elder Coke perished in a Jamaican prison fire. Elonia Reynolds is no longer tempted to use her coupe as a tank. But when she looks at a picture of Dudus Coke, she sees the man who stole her daughter's life. "This boy needs to be put on the next boat over here," she says, "to face all of the horrors that he wrought."