Sat | Mar 24, 2018

Gangsters fuelling fear in central Kingston

Published:Sunday | July 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Residents of South Side, central Kingston, march through the community in a cry for peace.
An empty desk with flowers and a cup at the Holy Family Primary School as students remembered 11-year-old Taysha Hughes, one of the victims of the gang war now taking place in central Kingston.

Sections of the troubled central Kingston community remained tense up to late last week as residents braced for more bloodletting following the flare-up of gang clashes that claimed five lives in less than seven days.

Police from the Kingston Central Division spent the week trying to determine if the incidents were related and going through the possible scenarios which led to five persons, including an alleged area leader, Nicholas 'Thick-a-Back' Malcolm, and an 11-year-old girl being killed.

Two of the killings took place in the neighbouring Kingston Eastern Police Division.

"I would love if I had that information officially. I have heard nothing like that so far," said head of the Kingston Central Division, Superintendent Wilfred Campbell, in response to claims that Malcolm was marked for death, having returned to Jamaica after fleeing the island some years ago when he was allegedly involved in the killing of a young man.


Least suspected


"In fact, we never even had him as a suspect in any crime. If that was the case we would have locked him up. We didn't even have him as a person of interest," said Campbell, as he confirmed that Malcolm was overseas and had only recently returned to Jamaica.

Malcolm and a group of men were reportedly standing on Wildman Street when a motor car drove up. One man armed with a rifle alighted and opened fire, hitting him. A 12-year-old boy was also shot in that incident.

Two hours later, armed thugs traded bullets on nearby Fleet Street, killing 11-year-old Taysha Hughes, a student of Holy Family Primary and Infant School. Richard 'Finey' Allen, who cops suspect was among the gunmen, was also killed in that shooting, while three other people were left with gunshot wounds.

Three days later, 41-year-old Shawn Cunningham of James Street, also in central Kingston, was killed in the nearby East Kingston Police Division. Thirty-four-year-old Roshawn Harriott was also killed in that incident, which residents say was linked to the Wildman Street shooting.

The police are yet to confirm that the incidents are related but the investigators say the main gangsters are forming alliances with smaller gangs within the area, making it harder to track incidents.

"There is a lot of tension in the division right now, especially in those particular areas. We are conducting our investigations, we have launched a number of operations and have been getting external help," said Campbell, noting that intelligence is pointing the cops towards several leads.

"It is a small space and they have nowhere to go, but we have to arrest them with evidence, and that is where the problem is," added Campbell, who declined to release the names of men the police were seeking in relation to a string of shootings.

Last week, councillor for the Rae Town division in central Kingston, the Jamaica Labour Party's Rosalie Hamilton, also blamed the bloodletting on gangsters.

"Man a try fi teck over turf [and] I don't know what kind of gold mine in central Kingston, where there is so much poverty. The place deteriorate and the community is a mess," said Hamilton as she condemned the shootings.

Up to last Monday, the police were reporting 17 murders in the Kingston Central Division, down from 22 for the corresponding period last year.