Sun | May 28, 2017

She fought to the end

Published:Thursday | July 16, 2015 | 7:00 AMLivern Barrett
Woman Constable Crystal Thomas
Senior Superintendent of Police Cornwall ‘Bigga’ Ford (right) escorts National Security Minister Peter Bunting, who visited the Denham Town Police Station in west Kingston, to get an update after the murder of woman Constable Crystal Thomas, who was shot and killed by gunmen on a bus on Tuesday night.
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The shattered glass littering the backseat of a passenger bus parked at the Hunt's Bay Police Station in St Andrew yesterday told the story of the brave struggle woman Constable Crystal Thomas waged against three robbers before she was eventually killed on Tuesday night, police investigators have revealed.

"She fight to the last," one senior investigator told The Gleaner.

"She never roll over and die; she fight to the end," said another

investigator.

In the end though, they said the three male robbers were too strong for the 24-year-old constable and overpowered her before shooting her three times in the face.

 

Weapon recovered

 

But within hours of the gruesome slaying, the St Andrew South Police revealed that two suspects had been taken into custody and a firearm seized.

By late afternoon yesterday, Senior Superintendent Dean Taylor, who heads the Major Investigation Task Force (MIT), revealed that a firearm, believed to be Thomas' service weapon, had been recovered.

Taylor said both weapons would be turned over to the Government Forensic Laboratory for testing.

Senior Superintendent Cornwall 'Bigga' Ford, who heads the West Kingston Police Division where Thomas worked for the past four years, praised residents for assisting investigators and appealed for their continued cooperation.

Ford said he expected that the probe would be wrapped up within a "very short time".

Retracing Thomas' final steps, Superintendent Lennox Harper, who is attached to the St Andrew South Police Division, said she boarded the Mandeville-bound Toyota Coaster outside the Denham Town Police Station shortly after completing her shift.

Harper said investigations revealed that shortly after the bus crossed the intersection of Maxfield Avenue and Spanish Town Road one of three men who boarded the bus, after the constable, put a gun to the driver's head and ordered him to make a left turn off the main thoroughfare.

He said the driver and conductor managed to flee the bus loaded with about 15 passengers, and it was then that Constable Thomas decided to challenge the robbers.

 

Still unclear

 

Harper said what transpired next was still unclear, but that passengers reported hearing several shots being fired inside the vehicle.

For some members of the Police Federation, the death of the young constable reignited the issue of transportation for off-duty police personnel. They pointed to the dangers of travelling on public passenger vehicles with persons they may have prosecuted.

"For years we have been clamouring for a bus system to transport police officers when they finish their shift," an executive member of the Federation told grieving police personnel at the Denham Town Police Station yesterday.

Responding to the concerns, National Security Minister Peter Bunting revealed that the Government is now in the process of purchasing a number of buses and indicated that some could be made available to the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

"In discussion with the Commissioner [of Police], in terms of deployment, I'm sure that's one of the things he is going to look at," Bunting told journalists after a visit with grieving police personnel at the Denham Town Police Station.

The Police High Command is appealing to anyone with information in connection to the slaying of woman Constable Crystal Thomas to come forward.

A special task force headed by Senior Superintendent (SSP) Dean Taylor, assisted by Superintendent Alden Davis has been set up to investigate the matter. Persons with information can contact SSP Taylor at 909-8369, Superintendent Davis at 564-9603 or 754-5048, Crime Stop at 311, Police 119 emergency number or the nearest Police Station.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com