Three Missionaries in Haiti Killed in Gang Attack

Published: May 24, 2024

An Oklahoma-based missionary group working in Haiti’s capital was attacked by gangs on Thursday night, leaving two Americans and the group’s director dead, the organization, Missions in Haiti, announced on Facebook.

Missions in Haiti runs a school for 450 children, as well as two churches and a children’s home in the Bon Repos neighborhood in the northern outskirts of Port-au-Prince, which is widely known to be controlled by two local gangs. The independent nonprofit was founded by an Oklahoma couple, David and Alicia Lloyd, in 2000.

The attack occurred Thursday, after two different groups of gangs descended on the organization’s compound, attacked employees and stole the organization’s vehicles.

The victims were the founders’ son, David Lloyd III, 23, known as Davy; his wife, Natalie Lloyd, 21; and the organization’s Haitian director, Jude Montis, 45, the group said. Ms. Lloyd is the daughter of a state representative in Missouri, Ben Baker.

“My heart is broken in a thousand pieces,” Mr. Baker posted on Facebook. “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.”

The Lloyds were coming out of a section of the mission’s compound when they were ambushed by three trucks full of men, according to David Lloyd Jr., whose son was killed.

The younger Mr. Lloyd was taken inside and beaten, his father said. The gang members then took the organization’s vehicles and other items and left. But things took a turn when a second gang showed up, and one of its members was killed.

“Now this gang went into full attack mode,” the organization said in a post that was written before the three had been killed.

The Lloyds and the director of the program were able to make calls using a satellite internet link and recount what was happening as it was occurring, describing how they were holed up as the gang members shot through the windows.

The elder Mr. Lloyd, who had just left Haiti a day earlier to return to the United States, said he last spoke to his son “right in the middle of it all.” His son had been struck on the head with a pistol and was trying to calm the situation, Mr. Lloyd said.

“One group came in, tied him up, beat him and stole my trucks and loaded them up with everything they could,” Mr. Lloyd told The Times in a telephone interview from Oklahoma.

His son managed to untie himself as neighbors tried to help.

“And then all of a sudden another group pulls up and that’s where things got foggy,” Mr. Lloyd said. “I was talking to him when that next group pulled up. And he was telling me that he got hit in the head by a pistol. He’s like, ‘I’ve got to go now. There’s a bunch of them here again.’”

Mr. Lloyd said he wasn’t sure what happened next, but that witnesses told him that one of the organization’s security guards may have fired his weapon.

“Somebody got nervous and somebody got shot, so they felt like it was my son’s fault,” Mr. Lloyd said.

The incident was being chronicled in real-time on Facebook, with Mr. Lloyd and his wife recounting that they were trying to rescue everyone and negotiate with the gangs. Then the phone lines went silent, and they posted an update that three of them had been killed.

The victim’s parents described their son as a devout Christian dedicated to Haiti.

“My son grew up in Haiti. It was his whole life,” the victim’s mother, Alicia Lloyd, said in an interview. “All he wanted to do was go back to Haiti and help people.”

After attending the Ozark Bible Institute and College in Missouri — the same Pentecostal college his father attended — Mr. Lloyd III chose to return to Haiti, his parents said.

The younger Mr. Lloyd would tell girls he’d meet: “‘Don’t talk to me if you are not interested in living in Haiti for the rest of your life,’” Mr. Lloyd Jr. said. “He said he loved Haiti, and that was his heart.”

Even as most Americans working in Port-au-Prince were evacuated by the U.S. Embassy in March after a gang assault on the city that shut down the airport, the younger Lloyds chose to stay.

In fact, unlike most schools, which were forced to shutter for months this year during the gang uprising, Missions in Haiti’s school remained open.

The Port-au-Prince airport reopened this week after being closed for months, giving the couple a fresh opportunity to flee. They still stayed.

Mr. Lloyd said he told his son he could fly home for a break on Wednesday after the airport reopened, but he declined the offer.

“He just had a heart for the Haitian people,” he said.

Mr. Montis, the pastor, had been with the organization for 20 years. He left behind a wife and two children, a 6-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy.

“One of the best guys you will ever meet,” Mr. Lloyd said.

The older Mr. Lloyd said they had frequent dealings with gang leaders, who respected their work.

Despite the scourge of killings in recent months, he said it had been relatively peaceful in the area in the past few weeks. He even fed gang members regularly with bread from the organization’s bakery, he said, adding that it was customary to have to pay them to get through roadblocks.

Gang leaders, he said, told him: “‘We appreciate you helping the people.’

“That’s why we felt safe.”

Haiti has been gripped by a wide-scale gang assault since February, when several gangs that normally fight each other decided to band together and fight the government. Hospitals, government buildings, police stations and prisons were attacked, and thousands of prisoners were released.

The crisis forced the resignation of Haiti’s prime minister, Ariel Henry, who was out of the country at the time and unable to return. A transitional council was named to run the flailing government while the United States helped organize a deployment of police and soldiers from several countries, led by Kenya, to fight the gangs. That mission is expected to arrive in the coming weeks.

Gang violence spread to unprecedented levels after the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. More than 2,500 people were killed or injured in the first three months of 2024 alone, according to the United Nations.

A spokesman for the Haiti National Police said he did not have details on the killings.

The U.S. State Department said it was aware of reports of the deaths of U.S. citizens in Haiti and was ready to provide consular assistance but had no further comment.

“We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss,” the State Department said in a statement.

In October 2021, 17 Christian Aid Ministries missionaries, 16 Americans and one Canadian, were kidnapped by a gang after visiting an orphanage. Twelve of the hostages escaped and the others were freed.

The United States has offered $5 million in bounty for the capture of the various gang leaders responsible.

In February, armed bandits also kidnapped three sisters of the Saint-Joseph de Cluny Congregation from a Catholic orphanage in Port-au-Prince. They were released unharmed without paying ransom.

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