Gun battles rock Kingston

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Four persons were shot and killed in Kingston Tuesday as gunshots rang out across the western end of the city.

Two of the men were killed in the western Kingston area and the others in nearby Trench Town.

Police have claimed responsibility for one of the deaths in western Kingston, which was the scene of a major operation. However, they said they would have to wait for forensic experts to determine who killed a man who was hit in a crossfire.

Sergeant Jubert Llewelyn of the Constabulary Communication Network told The Gleaner that police were on foot patrol in a section of Denham Town when they came under fire from gunmen. The police returned the fire and a man was hit and a 9mm pistol taken from him.

Sgt. Llewelyn said that shortly afterwards, the men regrouped and again challenged the police. Another man was shot and killed but he said “it is yet to be determined from whose gun (police or gunmen) the bullet came”.

According to the police, because of the intensity of the gunfight in the Denham Town and Tivoli Gardens area, police who were on duty in Trench Town went to offer support and this depleted their presence in Trench Town. This reportedly allowed men from Angola in Jones Town to invade the community and shoot four persons.

Delroy Hewitt, the superintendent in charge of the Kingston West Police Division, said police are keeping a close watch on the situation in both communities.

In downtown Kingston, parents and guardians hurriedly tried to get their children home while other adults watched curiously from various points inside western Kingston communities as the sound of gunfire echoed in the air.

Debris was used to block the roads in various parts of these communities and in some places fire blazed in the street.

At least two of these fires have been blamed on the police, one being a parked motorbike which the residents said police fired on to, causing it to explode and another being a stall which they said they police lit.

“Justice” is the residents’ cry and many disobeyed the request of Mayor Desmond McKenzie and Member of Parliament Bruce Golding to keep off the streets.

According to the residents, the attacks are politically motivated and they can take it no more.

“Wi naah retreat, wi naah surrender. Wi naah give up. Wi ready,” one man with a bullhorn coerced dozens of people into shouting.

Even while Mr. Golding and other members of the JLP top brass took to the streets to reassure residents, gunshots rang out in the air with great regularity. However, The Gleaner witnessed no evidence of an exchange between heavily armed police personnel and gunmen.

The presence of police on the streets decreased and so did the rapidity of gunfire as soon Mr. Golding and his team began making their way through the constituency.

Mr. Golding later told journalists that there was something familiar about yesterday’s shooting.

“This operation in West Kingston has a familiar ring to it,” he said.

“Whenever we are close to an election, as we have found in previous elections, some operation of this nature is carried out in West Kingston,” Mr. Golding said.

The opposition leader displayed a bag containing spent-shells which he said was collected metres from the Denham Town high school.

“We can’t live under this,” one elderly woman screamed.

Mr. Golding said the residents have enjoyed a good relationship with the Denham Town police. The residents said this was true and added that yesterday’s incident was triggered by the actions of a certain policeman who they claim has been terrorising them.

“What happened to Dr. Jephthah Ford a week and a half ago is the daily fear that is meted out to them at his hands,” Mr. Golding said of the policeman, about whom he said he has lodged a complaint at the police high command.

Prominent medical doctor and politician, Dr. Ford was battered by at least three policemen on Easter Monday as he intervened to protect his sister who was being roughed up by the policemen at a party in Portmore.

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