Funeral bloodbath - Gunmen turn weapons on mourners outside church
For some, it was a scene similar to what they had seen on television as gunmen armed with high-powered weapons yesterday sprayed mourners attending a funeral at the Kings Chapel Seventh-day Adventist Church in east Kingston.
"Collection [offering] pick up and di pastor 'bout fi pray, and a dat time di shot start fire," one woman, who was inside the church, recounted.
"Mi God! About 15 shots fire, if a no more dan dat. Everybody inna di church get flat," she said, adding that there was no gunfire inside the church building.
When the shooting ended, according to officials at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), two persons were confirmed dead and seven others were being treated for gunshot wounds. The identities of the two victims had not been released up to late yesterday.
"Two of them died on arrival. We have two in surgery at the moment, and the others are being treated in the accident and emergency area," Errol Greene, chief executive officer at the KPH, told reporters outside the hospital.
Senior Medical Officer at the KPH Dr Natalie Whylie said that as a result of the incident, additional surgeons and nurses had been summoned for duty.
Whylie revealed, too, that four emergency theatres had to be opened.
"Usually on a weekend, we have one emergency theatre that's open. We had to open four to ensure that the hospital can respond to what is taking place," she said.
Quick action by the police led to the apprehension of a man they believe was one of the church shooters.
"He was being mobbed by residents and the police rescued him and transported him to KPH," a police source revealed.
As word of the shooting circulated, scores of persons, mainly relatives and friends of the victims, converged on the KPH to get news on the condition of their loved ones. Some wept openly after word came that two persons had succumbed to their injuries.
Their grief turned to anger as the police vehicle transporting the man believed to be one of the shooters arrived at the KPH compound in downtown Kingston.
"Why unu carry him in? Why unu never kill him?" shouted some in the crowd.
The man was placed in a wheelchair and whisked inside the hospital.
One woman, who was shot in the leg, recounted that she had just arrived at the church for the funeral for Romain White, an informal commercial importer who resided in Matthews Lane, downtown Kingston.
According to residents, White was stabbed to death nearly a month ago in a dispute with another man over the spot where he plied his goods.
The woman said that the driver of the vehicle she was travelling in was trying to find a parking spot when gunfire erupted.
"So we just drive straight through di shot dem," she told The Gleaner as she was helped from the KPH compound, with her left foot heavily bandaged.
The shooting at Kings Chapel is the latest in a wave of attacks by marauding criminals that have resulted in more than 1,500 murders this year.