MAYHEM! - Four killed and several injured as heavily armed criminals strike in Mobay and May Pen
Terror reigned in several Montego Bay communities in the early hours of yesterday morning as marauding gunmen went on a rampage, killing two persons and damaging several cars while hundreds of residents cowered in fear in their homes.
When the mayhem subsided at daybreak, it was discovered that an elderly street sweeper, who was out doing his early-morning rounds in downtown Montego Bay, was shot and killed in proximity to the Calvary Baptist Church, while a taxi operator was killed along the Montego Bay to Granville main road. Up to press time their identities had not been released.
"I heard some guns that I did not know exist outside of the army," a policeman, who was among a team which responded to the shooting, told The Sunday Gleaner.
"These criminals are brazen beyond belief ... it is obvious that they are on a mission to terrorise," added the cop.
An elderly resident of the Canterbury community told The Sunday Gleaner she became aware of the night of terror shortly after 4 a.m. when she was awoken by heavy gunfire coming from the direction of the footbridge leading into her community.
"I have never heard so much gunshots in my life ... I was so scared that I began to cry and pray at the same time," said the elderly woman, as she pointed out that she was living in the community in 2003 when the infamous nine-hour shoot-out between thugs and the police occurred.
"It is clear that these gunmen are not afraid of the police ... they are fearless and heartless," the edlderly woman said.
At daybreak yesterday, it was discovered that several cars that were parked alongside the roadway outside the Canterbury community, which is accessible only by a footbridge, was shot up by the marauding thugs, who also fired several shots into the community.
"When we went there this morning, we saw several damaged vehicles and spent shells were scattered far and wide ... it must be a miracle that nobody in the community got killed," one policeman told our news team. "When I see things like these, it tells me that these criminals are heavily armed and very dangerous."
In addition to the shootings in the Canterbury area, which resulted in the roadway being closed for several hours as crime scene investigators processed the scene, there were reports of heavy and sustained gunfire in the Bottom Pen community and sections of Rose Heights and Flankers.
Since the start of the year, St James has been a hotbed of criminality, with the number of murders nearing the 150 mark. Despite several policing initiatives, including the reassigning of Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor to the parish, the parish remains the epicentre of crime in Jamaica.
Prior to the deployment of an additional 150 police officers to St James just under two months ago, a frustrated Montego Bay Mayor Glendon Harris told The Gleaner that unless residents decide to fully support the effort of the police to identify and remove criminals from the various communities, "even if a police is placed in every yard, it will not stop the violence".
In the meantime, over in Clarendon, gunmen struck at a social event, leaving two dead and two injured in one incident, and another man nursing gunshot wounds from another incident.
The police report that 22-year-old Leroy 'Sanjay' Hitchman of Woodside, and Leroy 'Buju' White, a 21-year-old labourer of Cardage Avenue, died from gunshots they received after gunmen invaded a fish fry they had attended.
According to the police, about 9 p.m. the men were at a fish fry on Howard Avenue when a white motor car drove up and several men alighted and opened fire before making a get-away in the waiting car.
Hitchman was later found with several gunshot wounds and died on the spot. White died at hospital while undergoing treatment. Two other men were also taken to hospital where they were treated and released.
Before that shooting a man, whose name is being withheld, narrowly escaped death when he was attacked.
It is reported that the man went to visit a friend in Bucks Common and while sitting on his motorcycle he heard several explosions and sped off.
He later realised he had been shot in the knee and leg.
- Additional reporting by Shanique Samuels.