Thu | Oct 19, 2017

Gangsters wiped out - Wanted men among six killed by police in gun battle

Published:Monday | January 16, 2017 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater
A Mitsubishi SUV belonging to the Jamaica Defence Force bears the bullet marks.
Nesbeth
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Six alleged gangsters, three of whom are St James' most wanted men, were killed in a blazing gun battle with a police-military patrol in the quiet Goodwill community, which is located on the St James-Trelawny border, shortly after 9:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Three of the dead have been identified as Marlon 'Brutus' Samuels, Dino 'Buju' Pryce, and Oswin 'Ski Mask' Jarrett, who are said to be the main players in the Ski Mask and House of Guns gangs, which have been terrorising St James for years and have been linked to numerous murders.

"The car in which the men were travelling was intercepted by a joint police-military patrol and the occupants alighted, firing shots," said Senior Superintendent of Police Marlon Nesbeth, commanding officer of the St James Police Division. "A gun battle ensued, and when the shooting stopped, the men were found suffering from gunshot wounds. They were rushed to the Cornwall Regional Hospital, where they were pronounced dead."

Following the shooting, it was discovered that a Mitsubishi SUV which belongs to the Jamaica Defence Force, had several bullet holes in it. Two police officers also suffered minor injuries in the exchange. Four illegal 9mm pistols were seized at the scene.

"We suspect that there might have been more firearms around based on the fact that we know that these men are normally heavily armed," said Nesbeth. "We will be doing further search of the area to ascertain whether any other weapons might have been dropped during the shooting."

For the residents of Goodwill, it was a horrifying experience, as persons who had crammed into the district's main shop to had to flee in panic as bullets flew around them. Except for bruises sustained by persons who fell while running, no injuries were reported.

"Mi nah lie, mi haffi run like thief. Di shop empty out in seconds. Ol' and young, everybody run," a middle-age man told The Gleaner. "The last time mi run suh faas was at sports day at school, and that is almost 30 years ago."

While not revelling in the loss of lives, Nesbeth said the police could take comfort in the fact that among those killed were three of the main violence producers in St James.

"These are men who have been wreaking havoc in areas like Barrett Town, Lilliput, Africa, and Long Bay. They are responsible for several murders over a span of two years," said Nesbeth. "I can remember one of the recent gruesome ones where a former crony's mother was shot and killed by them and her body set ablaze."

As news of the killings spread Sunday morning, some residents in Barrett Town reportedly celebrated openly, banging pot covers together. However, when The Gleaner visited the community, residents refused to comment on the incident.

"We have nothing to say except that it is nice to see the police finally doing some work," said a lady who was on her way to church. "The Bible can't wrong. If you live by the gun, you shall die by the gun."

Last year, St James registered a record 268 murders, which were primarily blamed on marauding gunmen fighting for the spoils from the illicit lottery scam and turf in the parish's gangland. Ten persons have been murdered in the parish this year.

adrian.frater@gleanerjm.com