MoBay cops kill five

Jamaica police say they have dented the operations of the Collin Palmer gang, based in Tucker/Irwin, St. James, following the fatal shooting of five members in Montego Bay, Sunday.

The men were reportedly killed in confrontations with the police, which began about 2:30 p.m. on Barnett Street and ended along Foster Avenue in the western city.

Three illegal firearms – a home-made shotgun and two 9mm handguns – and an imitation gun, were also recovered in the incident.

At press time, three of the gunmen were identified as gang leader Collin Palmer; Kirk ‘Joe’ Thomas; and Stratty McLeod, all of Tucker/Irwin addresses.

Meanwhile, a sixth man was held last night for questioning in connection with the incident. It is reported that he went to the Granville Police Station to report his Honda motor car stolen.

The car was earlier involved in the shooting. However, when the alleged car owner was taken to Montego Bay, police personnel fingered him as one who was involved in the earlier run-in with them.

“The gang was wanted in connection with several cases of shootings, robberies and murders committed in the parish,” said Superintendent Wilford Gayle, head of the Area One Crime Management Unit.

“The men were fingered in Monday’s killings of Prince Christie in Catherine Hall and Steve Genus, subsequently on King Street.”

Palmer was convicted of illegal possession of firearm charges in the Western Regional Gun Court last year, for which he was given a suspended sentence.

He is a graduate of Calabar High School in St. Andrew and the Mico Teachers’ College in Kingston. He also taught at three prominent Montego Bay secondary institutions up to the late 1990s.

“It was just recently that I had a strong talk with Collin and told him to stop the foolishness,” a friend of his told The Gleaner.

“He told me he had no work and has his children to feed; the man is worthless, he really disappointed me.”

The St. James police have been struggling to arrest the parish’s runaway crime problem, especially murders, in the last three years.

Up to Sunday, 27 murders were committed in the parish since January.

Last week, gunmen murdered five persons in Flower Hill and killed 50-year-old district constable, Luke Rhodes, in downtown Montego Bay.

In 2006, St. James recorded 178 homicides.

Meanwhile the Government will this week announce its anti-crime strategies for 2007.

Police Commissioner, Lucius Thomas says there will be major announcements with regard to community policing, intelligence and forensics.

It is also expected that the police high command will unveil other strategies in response to the current crime rate.

At the same time, Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Derrick Smith, and Jamaica Labour Party Deputy Leader, Dr. Horace Chang, will hold a press conference this morning with regard to the upsurge in crime and violence.