Young missionary couple from US among 3 killed by gunmen in Haiti's capital, family says

A Facebook post on the Missions in Haiti page late Thursday stated that Davy and Natalie Lloyd were leaving a church after a youth group activity when they were ambushed

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A U.S. missionary couple and a Haitian man who led a religious group were shot and killed by criminal gang members in Haiti’s capital after they were abducted while leaving a youth group activity held at a local church, a family member said Friday.

The attack happened Thursday evening in the community of Lizon in northern Port-au-Prince, Lionel Lazarre, head of a Haitian police union, told The Associated Press on Friday.

The slayings occurred as the capital crumbles under the relentless assault of violent gangs that control 80% of Port-au-Prince while authorities await the arrival of a police force from Kenya as part of a U.N.-backed deployment aimed at quelling violence in the troubled Caribbean country.

Two of the victims were a young married couple, Davy and Natalie Lloyd, according to a Facebook post from Natalie Lloyd’s father, Missouri state Rep. Ben Baker. The third victim was Jude Montis, who was the local director of Missions in Haiti Inc.

“My heart is broken in a thousand pieces,” Baker wrote on Facebook on Thursday. “I’ve never felt this kind of pain. Most of you know my daughter and son-in-law Davy and Natalie Lloyd are full time missionaries in Haiti. They were attacked by gangs this evening and were both killed. They went to Heaven together.”

Hannah Cornett, Davy Lloyd's sister, told the AP that her brother, 23, and Natalie Lloyd, 21, were going to celebrate their two-year anniversary in June and his birthday in early July. Cornett said her parents are full-time missionaries in Haiti and that she and her two brothers grew up there.

“Davy spoke Creole before he spoke English. It was home,” she said in a phone interview. “Haiti was all we knew.”

Cornett, 22, said her parents run an orphanage, school and church in Haiti and that she and her brothers grew up with the orphans: “It was just one big happy family there.”

She said that Montis worked for her parents for 20 years and left behind two children, ages 2 and 6.

Cornett said the night of the attack, three vehicles carrying gang members stopped the Lloyds and Montis as they crossed the street, hitting her brother in the head with the barrel of a gun. They forced him upstairs, stole their belongings and left him tied up. As people were helping untie Davy Lloyd, another group of armed gunmen showed up.

The aid will help to control violent gangs in the troubled Caribbean country.

An unidentified person got shot and the gunmen opened fire as the Lloyds and Montis fled to the house where her parents live, Cornett said.

“They tried to take cover in there, but the gang shot up the house,” she said, adding that they were killed and their bodies set on fire.

On Friday afternoon, Baker posted on Facebook that the bodies of Davy and Natalie Lloyd were safely transported to the U.S. Embassy.

The couple worked for Missions in Haiti Inc. The Claremore, Oklahoma, organization was founded by David and Alicia Lloyd, Davy Lloyd’s parents. Natalie Lloyd’s Facebook page said the couple married on June 18, 2022, and she began working with the missionary organization in August 2022. She frequently posted photos of Haitian children on her page.

A Facebook post on the Missions in Haiti page late Thursday read: “Around midnight: Davy and Natalie and Jude were shot and killed by the gang about 9 o’clock this evening. We all are devastated.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Kingston, Jamaica Monday where he spoke about the escalating crisis in Haiti.

The U.S. State Department said Friday it was aware of the killings. “We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. Out of respect for the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment," the department said.

It wasn’t immediately clear which gang or gangs were responsible for the fatal shootings. However, a gang leader called Chyen Mechan, which means “mean dog” in Haitian Creole, controls the area where the shooting occurred. His real name is Claudy Célestin, and he is a dismissed civil servant from Haiti’s Ministry of the Interior.

The leader of another gang, known as General Jeff, also controls territory near the neighborhood where the three were killed. Both gangs are part of a coalition known as Viv Ansanm, which means “Live Together.”

The coalition is responsible for launching large-scale attacks on key government infrastructure starting in February this year. Gunmen have attacked police stations, opened fire on the main international airport — which remained closed for nearly three months before reopening earlier this week — and stormed Haiti’s two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates.

Gangs also are blamed for killing or injuring more than 2,500 people across Haiti from January to March, a 50% increase compared with the same period last year, according to the United Nations. Kidnappings also are rampant, with targets including U.S. missionaries.

In October 2021, gang members kidnapped 17 missionaries, the majority U.S. citizens. Many in the group, which included five children, were held captive for more than two months before escaping.

Then in July 2023, gangs kidnapped a U.S. nurse and her daughter from the campus of a Christian-run school near Port-au-Prince. They were released nearly two weeks later.

The U.S. State Department has long had a “do not travel” advisory for Haiti and urges any U.S. citizens in the country to depart as soon as possible.

The Missions in Haiti website says the organization was founded in 2000 and that it aimed to help with “the country's biggest need — its children.”

A May 2023 newsletter posted on the mission website said Natalie “has been helping with the kids at the House of Compassion and assisting in our ACE school. Davy has been working on a lot of badly needed projects around our compound,” including building a laundry room and repairing bathrooms.

Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. AP writer Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri contributed to this report.

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