Thu | Feb 20, 2020

Just-released SOE detainees linked to MoBay shooting

Published:Friday | February 1, 2019 | 4:44 PM


Three men who were released just ahead of the expiration of the state of public emergency (SOE), which ended in St James yesterday, are back on the police’s radar as they have been implicated in Wednesday night’s drive-by shooting in Catherine Hall, Montego Bay.

According to a well-placed police source, law enforcers have intelligence that the men, who were among a batch of more than 30 detainees released this week, were responsible for the shooting of two men who were fired on with AK-47 rifles from a motor car.

“Many of the men who were released are dangerous criminals, but people are afraid to come forward and give evidence against them out of fear,” the policeman told The Gleaner yesterday. “I guess people prefer to take their chances with them rather than to confront them in court.”

On the eve of the expiration of the SOE, approximately 30 detainees at the Freeport police lock-up, who had been held under the provisions of the SOE but who had not charged with any offences, were released.

It was a string of drive-by shootings, including a brazen murder close to the entrance of Sangster International Airport, that triggered the declaration of the emergency powers last January. More than 50 of the persons murdered in St James in 2017 were killed in drive-by shootings by men firing high-powered weapons.

The SOE led to a 70 per cent fall in murders in 2018 from a record 335 a year earlier.

Montego Bay Mayor Homer Davis has said that the security forces will still swarm the western city and other sections of St James to maintain the dip in violent crime.