Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Don't 'loud up' the gun attack - Vendors concerned that negative publicity about market shootings will affect livelihood

Published:Friday | June 23, 2017 | 6:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
It's business as usual as vendors at the Coronation Market display and sell ground provisions next to the bloodstain where their colleagues were murdered, less than a day later.
Police were on patrol at the Coronation Market in Kingston yesterday.
Vendors at the Coronation Market yesterday with their body language and facial expression revealing their concern.
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Worried that their weekend sales could be affected by the murder of two of their own and the injury of one farmer on Wednesday night, some vendors at the Coronation Market were tight-lipped about the latest shootings in the busy market district in downtown Kingston, and they lamented that their livelihood was being affected by negative publicity.

"Look how unnu going to let people don't want to come down here now," one vendor hissed when The Gleaner team visited the area yesterday.

According to police reports, 34-year-old vendor Dane McDonald and 54-year-old Sonia Bennett, who was also a vendor, were both killed by unknown assailants in the car park linking Spanish Town Road and New Chapel Lane at about 9:50 p.m. The farmer who was also injured during the shooting has been admitted to hospital in stable condition.

Vendors and buyers alike seemed oblivious to the shootings yesterday morning as the crime scene was abuzz with entrepreneurial activities. Blue tarpaulins covered with a variety of ground provisions and fruits were placed in proximity to the bloodstained ground where the two met their demise, and sales seemed to be going well under the watchful eyes of police officers, who increased their patrol to maintain order.

One man who was visibly upset asked us not to "loud up" what was happening, while others refused to talk about the latest incident, which seems to be becoming a regular occurrence at the market.

Up to yesterday evening, police were still trying to piece together the motive for the shootings, but it is believed to be linked to an ongoing gang feud, which has already claimed several lives in the Kingston Western Division.

It was this gang rivalry that caused police officers from the Area Four division to flood sections of Pink Lane and surrounding areas yesterday to round up persons they believe can help them with their investigations into the recent flare-ups.

 

'Troubled about frequent gunfire'

 

Assistant Police Commissioner Devon Watkiss, who was seen supervising the team as they rounded up a group of mostly young men, said that the operation was part of measures to reduce crime and violence.

"Among the individuals picked up thus far, I am advised, are persons wanted in relation to crime committed in the area and some who represent persons of interest," he said.

"We are concerned about the activities of gunfire on a frequent basis and the number of available idle hands, and so part of the police push is to get a sense of who are the players around. As you can see, there is some social degradation in these areas that sometimes has some influence. Our objective, though, is to build relations with the community over time and to ensure that we can help with making these [areas] a better place for human habitation and also to change the culture of violence," he explained.

nadine.wilson-harris@gleanerjm.com