Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Cops seek divine intervention for Denham Town violence

Published:Wednesday | May 4, 2016 | 5:00 AMGlenroy Sinclair

Overwhelmed with the task of quelling the bloodletting in the violence-torn community of Denham Town, west Kingston, three heavily armed policemen, clad in blue denim, walked into the Regent Street Seventh-day Adventist Church Saturday morning, just before the start of the divine hour of worship. Moments later, the pastor, Kanhai Lumsden, emerged from his office and interrupted the song service.

"Sorry, we have an announcement to make and the officers will address us," Lumsden told the congregation.

Corporal Carl Mills, of the Denham Town Police Station, stepped forward and took the microphone.

"Please help us. This thing (gun violence) has been continuing for some time now. This morning we want you to pray for us, because we cannot do it on our own. We want you to take a stand against this violence. Help us to help you," the corporal pleaded to the congregation.

He told The Gleaner that he and his team were on foot patrol in the area, and, when he reached in the vicinity of the church, he felt overwhelmed by the urge to step inside and request prayers.

Immediately after his request, the pastor instructed the elders of the church to encircle the three policemen and pray for them.

"Lord, I pray that every gunman in this community will be apprehended. Lord, visit every house in Tivoli Gardens, Denham Town and over in Jungle (Arnett Gardens)," the pastor prayed.

People moving out

According to Lumsden, the situation has got worse in the community. In some instances, people have begun moving out.

" ... Last week, one principal had to sleep at her school," said Lumsden.

Hours after their prayer request, a group of police personnel came under attack from gunmen in the community. The police Corporate Communications Unit reported that an elderly woman was shot dead on Bond Street by unknown assailants on Saturday. She has been identified as 77-year-old Janet Messam of a North Street address in Kingston.

Reports from the Denham Town police are that about 8:20 p.m., lawmen responded to a robbery in the area when they came under gunfire. The gunmen escaped. After searching the area, Messam was seen suffering with gunshot wounds. She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Head of the Criminal Investigation Branch, Assistant Commissioner Ealan Powell, endorsed the gesture of the policemen seeking divine intervention.

"Only God can speak to the minds of some of these people who are so cold, vicious and wicked. I really appreciate these officers seeking divine intervention to deal with the problem," said Powell.

The senior officer stressed that while the fear level was high, the force have been relentless in its efforts in policing the area.