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Fiery protest forces hospital to close A&E

Published:Sunday | August 16, 2015 | 8:00 AMMark Titus

Violent protesters yesterday forced the suspension of some services at the Savanna-la-Mar General Hospital in Westmoreland.

The protesters were demonstrating over the fatal shooting of a father and son in the town last Friday night.

According to the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), it decided to suspend some services at the Accident and Emergency Department of the hospital after an ambulance, which was out of use, was burnt by protesters and Jamaica Fire Brigade personnel prevented from putting out the flames last Friday night.

"Staff of the hospital continue to be adversely affected by the unrest, which has spilt over on to the hospital compound and, understandably, there is fear among our health-care workers," said WRHA Chairman Calvin G. Brown.

He said the suspension would remain until the WRHA was satisfied that the problem in the town had been brought under control and it was safe for workers to resume normality.

Up to press time, there was no word on when normality would resume.

CONTROVERSIAL SHOOTING

The police had reported that Ricardo Sinclair and his son, Ajani, an 18-year-old student, both of Westmoreland addresses, were in the vicinity of the hospital when explosions were heard. It was later discovered that the two had been fatally shot.

The protesters claimed the two were killed by the police, but the cops denied any part in the incident.

According to the police, the two were killed by gunmen, and the police team was only trying to assist the victims.

"This is a disgrace. No matter how well we do our jobs, we can never be right," an irate policeman on the scene told The Sunday Gleaner.

"Our team of officers was in the vicinity and heard the shots and rushed to the scene, yet they are now being accused ... . Damned if we do, damned if we don't!"

A police service vehicle was firebombed during the protest, while debris was used to block the entrance to the health facility.

The Independent Commission of Investigations is probing the incident.