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Students traumatised as violence grips west Kingston

Published:Tuesday | June 16, 2015 | 6:00 AMGary Spaulding
Police use yellow tape to block off a section of North Street and Bond Street in west Kingston after two persons were shot by gunmen yesterday.

Students of all ages were hit hard yesterday as the death toll continued to rise in the ongoing warfare battering west Kingston.

An educator in the area has indicated that students have been traumatised by gunshots which have rained in the area during the two-week war sparked by the burgling of an establishment operated by a member of a well-known family in the community.

A man was killed and a woman injured behind the Kingston Public Hospital while the St Anne's Infant, Primary and High School took on the role of a refugee camp.

Infants, accompanied by mostly women, were allowed out of the North Street-based institution under the watchful eyes of the police and were forced to detour from one of three crime scenes.

The nearby primary and high schools that were in session were locked tight with the students behind the closed doors and police personnel keeping a close watch.

"It is extremely hard," said Stella Forrester, principal of St Anne's Primary School. "As adults, and as principal, we have to resolve as far as is possible to ensure that the children are safe."

Forrester told The Gleaner that the ongoing violence has caused disruption and distraction to the institution's entire programme of activities.

"For example, today (yesterday) we had to have what I call a lockdown at lunch because it was not safe for children to be in the schoolyard."

expectations high

She lamented that while the situation is difficult, expectations are very high.

"It is not just an immediate situation for just today, as we have children who are traumatised," she said. "Once children are traumatised, it is extremely difficult for children to be excellent learners in such an environment."

The residents appeared just as traumatised.

"Me dying to get out and live somewhere else. All in a middle day, people a dead," said a woman as she stood beside the North Street Infant School where young children were holed up.

Yellow tape was just about everywhere in Denham Town - at the North and Bond street intersections; North Street and Chestnut Lane and Oxford Street and Percy Lane, that stretched the resources of crime-fighters thin.

Amid the mayhem, the people of west Kingston attempted to make the best of the terrifying situation.

A loud outburst near two of the crime scenes on North Street had jolted into action police personnel manning the crime scenes. However, it turned out to be celebratory noise.

Amid the tension, a few residents had won the Cash Pot game of chance, which had played 25, eliciting brief laughter from the lawmen who were relieved that they were not being called on to thwart another attack.

"The people just have to live with the mindset that there is a war, and so they are out running their businesses and make the best of a bad situation," said one policeman.

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com