Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Eight persons shot as guns bark out west

Published:Friday | June 10, 2016 | 6:00 AMAdrian Frater

Western Bureau:

eight persons were shot and injured in incidents in western Jamaica on Wednesday night as gun-toting thugs continue to wreak havoc, giving credence to the region being dubbed the island's undisputed crime capital.

In Westmoreland, which has seen four murders in recent days, residents of Hartford got a major scare when gunmen, travelling on motorcycles, opened fire on a business place, hitting four men and sending others fleeing for their lives.

According to an eyewitness account, shortly after 8 p.m., residents were standing outside of the business place when the men rode up, and without warning, opened fired. The four persons were hit as panic set in.

"At first, I thought one of the bikes had backfired, but when I looked closely, I could see fire coming out of the guns and then I realised that we were under attack," a resident told The Gleaner. "To be honest, it is a miracle that nobody got killed."

When the shooting subsided and the gunmen rode away, the injured persons were hurriedly placed in cars and rushed to the Savanna-la-Mar General Hospital, where they were all admitted in serious but stable condition.

Based on preliminary investigations carried out by the police, Superintendent David White, the commanding officer for Westmoreland, is of the view that the shooting was an act of reprisal for Friday night's shooting death of 45-year-old Carole Johnson, a resident of the community.

In St James, it was a night of horror for residents of Rose Heights, Bottom Pen, and Blood Lane as rifle-wielding thugs drove through their communities, firing shots with impunity.

While the residents of Rose Heights and Blood Lane luckily escaped without suffering any injuries, four men were shot and injured in Bottom Pen.

EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT

According to residents of Rose Heights, at approximately 11 p.m., two cars with men armed with rifles drove into the community and began firing shots wildly, causing residents to flee in panic.

The car, which did not stop, drove over to nearby Bottom Pen, where they again opened fire. This time, four men were shot and injured.

On their way out of Bottom Pen, the men again opened fire in Blood Lane. However, those residents, who had seemingly taken cover after hearing the heavy gunfire in Bottom Pen, escaped unscathed.

"What gwaan a complete madness ... the man dem just a buss shot wild," a resident told The Gleaner. "Montego Bay has become the Wild West again ... every day we have shootings and killings in this city."

While the police have not confirmed any motives for the shootings, sources familiar with the Montego Bay underworld told The Gleaner that it was an act of reprisal for the killing of Canterbury's 'top man' (gangster), who residents identified only as Zekes.

He was shot dead in downtown Montego Bay on Tuesday.

Since the start of the year, St James has recorded 105 murders, Westmoreland 40, and Hanover 13.

adrian.frater@gleanerjm.com