MoBay mayhem - Seven killed in 24 hours, Bunting contemplates curfew
NATIONAL SECURITY Minister Peter Bunting says the Government is contemplating imposing curfews on volatile communities in St James as criminal elements continue to spill blood across the city, with seven people falling victims to their murderous rampage between Thursday afternoon and yesterday morning.
At the same time, Bunting has announced that he and his permanent secretary, Major General Stewart Saunders, will next week travel to Washington in the United States to hold talks with a number of State Department and law-enforcement officials.
He said the talks are aimed at increasing the level of cooperation in the fight against lottery scamming and narcotics trafficking. According to the minister, discussions will also include efforts to build the capabilities of the local security forces to counter any attempt at violent extremism "in our counter-terrorism capacities".
Bunting told journalists yesterday, while on a tour of the Rose Heights community in St James, that several murders which have taken place in western Jamaica, particularly in recent times, are linked to the lottery scam.
"We have gone through an analysis of what is happening and it is essentially consistent with the statement I made in Parliament on Tuesday (July 14) that a lot of the funding for the criminal activity is coming through lottery scamming," Bunting stressed.
"The criminal gangs interface with lottery scammers in different ways, from extortion to protection or otherwise providing some sort of service to the lottery scam. So what we find is that organised crime is behind a lot of what we are seeing, manifesting itself in the murder rate," he pointed out.
Bunting said that additional resources would be provided to the St James police division next week in an effort to curb the recent spike in murders in the parish.
An uneasy calm is now hanging over several communities in St James as the collective consciousness of residents has been badly jolted by seven murders in the 24-hour period between Thursday afternoon and yesterday (Friday) morning.
"It is really frightening ... as things are, even if you put a policeman in every yard, there is no guarantee that it will change anything," said Montego Bay's mayor Councillor Glendon Harris. "I am seriously wondering if what is happening is orchestrated ... . This kind of lawlessness is something we have never seen before."
With the latest killings, the murder count in St James has surged past the 120 mark, making St James the most murderous police division in the island. No other police division has passed the 100 mark.
In the volatile Norwood community, where the carnage started, a total of three persons died in a seven-hour span. The first person killed was 31-year-old Sean Hudson, who was shot dead by unknown assailants. At approximately 9:30 p.m., 42-year-old David Dilbert and his 31-year-old relative, Patrick Williams, were shot dead in another section of the community.
The bloodletting moved to Rose Heights shortly after 3 a.m. yesterday when 63-year-old taxi-operator Phillip Campbell and his 42-year-old nephew, Kevin Campbell, were killed at their home by gunmen.
Shortly after 6 a.m. yesterday, the police responded to gunfire in the vicinity of the Harbour Street Craft Market in downtown Montego Bay, where they found the bullet-riddled body of Elizabeth Robinson, a craft vendor of Ocho Rios in St Ann. While processing the Harbour Street crime scene, the investigators got news that another man, whose identify was not known up to news time, was killed in the Roehampton community.