ST. ANDREW, Jamaica – The St Andrew facilities of the Salvation Army School for the Blind and Visually Handicapped were turned upside down early Monday morning when three masked gunmen entered the compound, robbing 39 members of an overseas missionary team of cash, cell phones and other valuables.
Major Ward Matthews, secretary for business administration at the Salvation Army, told The Gleaner Monday that, about 2:30 a.m., an officer of the Christian organisation was awakened by noises coming from outside his sleeping quarters.
He went to investigate and found two men attempting to dig away the concrete below his grille. The officer raised an alarm and the men fled, only to move to another section of the campus where they entered through an unlocked door and held, at gunpoint, the almost 40 students visiting from the United States.
The students, who are linked to the Christian organisation, Adventures in Missions, were in Jamaica for a week-long trip of missionary work and evangelism.
The matter has been reported to the police and the Constant Spring Criminal Investigations Bureau has commenced an investigation.
The incident has, however, raised concern over the safety of not just the close to 100 visually impaired and orphaned students who are resident at the facility, but also visitors who come to the island to assist individuals in need.
Matthews said he was surprised that such an incident could have taken place at the Salvation Army.
“We know that the country does have a crime problem, but you would hope that it would not spread to a place in the city that is doing so much for the community,” he lamented.
Matthews said the visiting students were shaken up by the incident, but have decided not to allow it to deter them from making a difference in the lives of the poor.
“They had a wonderful week in Jamaica, sharing and working with the students and other individuals in the community,” he said.