Thu | Apr 2, 2020

One son at morgue. Another at hospital. - Reprisals stalk Ackee Walk with deadly mass shooting

Published:Thursday | February 6, 2020 | 12:19 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force speak with residents of Ackee Walk in St Andrew on Wednesday. Eight residents were shot, three fatally, in a drive-by attack on Tuesday night.

Under the cover of darkness on Tuesday night, a car blocked the entrance at 142 Molynes Road while another drove through the street of the violence-plagued neighbourhood of Ackee Walk, gunmen perched on the vehicle’s windows as merchants of death.

As residents scurried for their lives, the attackers fired dozens of rounds that left three men dead and five others wounded, driving fear into those who escaped.

The dead were identified as 33-year-old Omar ‘Trace’ Morris, 45-year-old bus driver Evroy ‘Buzzer’ Hibbert, and 18-year-old Adonis Hibbert, all of Kingston 19 addresses.

The onslaught, which unfolded about 8:15 p.m. in the northwest St Andrew community, was a stark reminder of the culture of bloodletting to which residents have morbidly become accustomed.

Charmaine Henry, mother of Morris, is shell-shocked by the wave of murders and shootings.

The body of one of her sons is now at the morgue while another is battling for life in hospital. Henry also lost another son in Ackee Walk to crime three years ago. But the worst-off victims of the bloodlust in the inner-city community are the increasing numbers of children who have been left fatherless.

“He (Morris) died leaving his three children and him bredda dead lef two and him in love wid di two of dem and help tek care of them.

“... Him look after his kids and help look after me, too. Mi hear di gunshot dem and when mi ask for him, mi hear say a him lay down roun deh,” she told The Gleaner yesterday.

Violence and pain are a common thread that unite the community.

An elderly woman told our news team yesterday that several of her relatives had also been killed over the years.

“Nine of my family, a gunshot kill dem. None nuh sick and dead. A just pure gunshot from round here suh,” she said.

Men from Ackee Walk have been fingered for the Chancery Street killings two Fridays ago in which a well-known figure from Common, Nigel ‘Bobby Sox’ Thompson, and another man, were victims, a stone’s throw from the old Price Rite supermarket.

NOT LINKED TO EXTORTION

Common is a stretch of inner-city communities off Red Hills Road.

But residents have denied claims that the ongoing violence is linked to an extortion racket targeting buses and taxis plying Chancery Street.

“This a nuh no extortion war. Everybody know a one man and him system deal with that,” a resident who withheld his identity said, referring to the Red Hills Road don.

“If nobody from round here try extort no taxi man, you know how it go. This nuh have nothing to do with extortion,” a resident said.

Councillor for the Havendale division, Vernon McLeod, sought to calm residents’ fears and defuse anger directed at the police.

Assistance Commissioner of Police Gary Griffiths said that preliminary investigations suggested that the Chancery Street shootings were a factor behind Tuesday’s attack.

“What is happening now is a reprisal and we expect a lot of things … that is why we are here,” Griffiths told the residents in the presence of our news team.

Griffiths also told new head of the St Andrew North Police Division, Superintendent Allison Byfield, that a meeting would soon be called with municipal councillors representing the warring factions.

Representatives from the Ministry of Justice and Peace Management Initiative also visited the community.

Meanwhile, a high-level probe into Tuesday night’s mass shooting has been launched by the Major Investigation Division.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com