Sun | Feb 23, 2020

‘A God alone can stop it’ - Churches ordered to close early, businesses suffer, as Maxfield violence makes victims of all

Published:Saturday | February 15, 2020 | 12:15 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
A resident watches as police service vehicle patrols Kew Lane on Friday, as several communities off Maxfield Avenue have been wracked by gun violence.
An open field referred to as 'Dump', off Kew Lane, is a buffer zone between warring factions in the greater Maxfield area of St Andrew.
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The off-roads are eerily empty, except for the whirring of a patrol vehicle under the piercing stares of the security forces.

People speak in hushed tones, muzzled by the force of fear that has turned Maxfield Avenue’s maze of satellite streets into a killing field of fighters loyal to gangs and the vainglory of gun violence.

Despite state of emergency checkpoints on its western outskirts, residents despair that peace and stability will never take hold in their communities.

As darkness falls, small-scale businesses have been shut down or sales wiped out – either because of diminishing clientele or the commanding voices of security personnel calling time on opening hours. Even churches are not spared.

Some Maxfield Avenue residents with whom The Gleaner spoke on Friday said that a rash of midweek murders triggered a clampdown by police and military personnel, with at least two churches ordered to close their doors abruptly on Thursday night.

“Dem come – three of dem inna the jeep. Them come and say fi lock off the church because crime scene, crime scene,” a woman told The Gleaner, requesting, like many, that her identity not be revealed because they are gripped by fear.

“Dem come over the church last night. We were having a crusade inside the church and they told us to lock it off,” a worshipper said.

Over on Kew Lane, a cook complained bitterly that the wanton killings and shootings were crippling her chicken back business.

“Too much crime. The people dem can’t go out a road go buy dem food. We haffi cut back on how much we prepare. Last night (Thursday), nothing nuh gwaan. We a go try off tonight (Friday) and see. The most people do is call and make an order and leave the streets. That is not how it was,” she told The Gleaner.

There was a murder on Galloway Road Tuesday night where the police say an unidentified man was gunned down.

Despite that, the residents say they are annoyed at the shutdown of churches, which they view as the only source of consolation.

POLICE NOT DOING ENOUGH

“We feel bad over it because a God we a worship. They say we are to put God first, and if a Him we a talk to bout the crime and a pray for the community because we want stop the war. Police can’t stop it. A God alone can stop it,” a resident said.

But the residents want the police to do more than just curtail pedestrian movement, which, they say, often targets law-abiding citizens but does little to stop deadly attacks by gunmen.

“Dem same one a run the people dem off the road a night and then dem gone. When them gone, the boy dem come in and kill people. Dem run Jomo (Kenyatta Thomas) off the road and man in a him yard a wait for him and kill him.”

Thomas was killed early Thursday morning after he was attacked in his yard and shot repeatedly in his head.

His father, Thomas Sr, told The Gleaner on Thursday that his son was drinking at a bar on McDonlad Lane when he was asked to leave the streets by the police and shortly after was killed.

When our news team visited the community, widely known as ‘Rome’, two police service vehicles regularly conducted patrols.

The St Andrew Central and St Andrew South police are investigating the latest flare-up, which has had repercussions on neighbouring police divisions.

Three people were killed and a one woman shot and injured from Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

Among the dead were 38-year-old Kenyatta Thomas Jr and Romeo Phong, 25.

The police confirmed reports and said the third person remained unidentified.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com