Not giving up on Manchester - Residents still positive despite crime uptick
After recording a slight uptick in murders last year and three killings so far this year, with reports of migrant criminals roaming the parish, some residents of Manchester have started to express concern about crime in what were once peaceful communities.
But despite the concerns, most are not prepared to flee the cool, central Jamaica parish.
Last week, prominent Manchester businessman Trevor Heaven said that the parish remained a perfect place to do business.
"I believe the Manchester police have been extremely proactive, keeping their feet on and ears to the ground to work alongside businesses," Haven told The Sunday Gleaner.
"We have not really been spared, but, thankfully, it is nowhere close to what we are hearing about in other jurisdictions," added Haven.
For Sprinrose Powell, who operates the Essential Body Herbs store in the Manchester Centre, the spike in the crime has not left her afraid.
"Mandeville is good. I don't think the crime rate is high, and even if things are happening, you don't hear about it much. I am not scared. I have been operating here since 2012, and I am not worried," said Powell.
In Porus, a bar operator, who survived a shooting incident just over one week ago in which he was shot and his sister and a neighbouring businessman killed, is also not unduly worried.
"Trust me! if I did think that is here dem come and that is me dem come for, I wouldn't even hesitate to lock it down and go find something else to do, but me know that is not me dem come for," said the operator of the Old Trafford Sports Bar.
"Maybe if we did stand up round a back, nobody wouldn't get shot," added the businessman, who escaped with his life when he and others crossed paths with gunmen trying to make an escape after killing the operator of a bar next to his establishment.
Last Tuesday, the injured barowner, leaning on crutches and heavily bandaged, laughed loudly after being released from the hospital to rejoin his friends, many of whom had scampered for their lives when gunshots rang out in the middle of their domino game three days earlier.
He recounted how he was flat on the ground awaiting the bullet that would take his life as his sister, Marcia McKenzie, 52, was hit and sprawled lifeless, metres away.
As he spoke, his friends, who all greeted him, interrupted with their takes on what happened.
"Unfortunately, 'Chrissy' (McKenzie) inna di way when dem a fire at me. Maybe if me never jump over the wall in front of dem, Chrissy wouldn't get shot ... 'cause they were just firing shot and trying to make their escape," said the bar operator.
"It is just unfortunate how it happen, you know," he continued, noting that in another incident five years earlier, a gunman entered his bar on Main Street and said, 'don't take me picture. we have who we come for', before murdering a male customer.
He said that the intended target of the attack that left his sister dead was St Claire Wayne Jordine, who had purchased the neighbouring Rosey's Chill Spot about two months before.
Neither the bar operator nor his friends have any hesitation about continuing their games of dominoes in the near future.
Mandeville finished last year with 44 murders, three more than for the previous year.
The double murder, just over one week ago, moved the murder total in the parish for this year to four, but the police are seeking to assure the residents that they have plans in place to clamp down on the crime.
Assistant Superintendent Cherry Codner, head of the Police Community Safety and Security Branch in Manchester, said that the cops have been partnering with the churches and many other civic groups to ensure the safety of the residents.
"We also partner with the business community. We do business visits and give them advice on how to be safe when transacting business. We advise them on how to make the premises, on a whole, safe, and how to reduce the risk of persons targeting them," said Codner.
She added that no suspects had been arrested in connection with the double murder in Porus.