Mon | Jun 17, 2019

Violence grips East Portland

Published:Tuesday | April 2, 2019 | 12:22 AM

In an attempt to quell the flare-up of violence in Eastern Portland, Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) General Secretary Dr Horace Chang, who is also the national security minister, toured one of the volatile areas, Halls Avenue, and met with residents on Saturday.

There have been mounting tension among supporters of the two major political parties, the JLP and the People’s National Party (PNP), as a blame game unfolds over a series of shooting incidents.

An early morning shooting yesterday left two men nursing gunshot wounds as violence continued to rock the constituency days ahead of the April 4 by-election.

The men were shot shortly after 1:15 a.m. on Monday at a popular entertainment spot along West Street in the Portland capital.

An alleged eyewitness said that shortly before the shooting, two men drove up on a motorbike, and headed into a dark alley near the entertainment spot, and that shortly after, several explosions were heard.

Dozens of patrons, who were inside the building, along with those on the outside, ran for cover in fear for their lives.

The ongoing gun violence has also claimed the life of 24-year-old Tevin McKenzie of an area of Halls Avenue in Port Antonio, popularly known as Free School, while four other men are nursing gunshot wounds at hospital.

“This kind of gun violence is [foreign] to East Portland,” commented Chang. He continued: “It is a rather unfortunate incident, which saw a youngster being murdered at the very entrance near the Free School area. It is a traumatic event in a small town like this, and there is a significant amount of apprehension and concern by the population that this has happened.”

The flare-up of violence, which also saw two stabbing deaths since the increase in political activity after the death of Member of Parliament Dr Lynvale Bloomfield, has sent shockwaves throughout the constituency.

The police, however, have not confirmed any political links to the murders.

- Gareth Davis Sr