Thursday | March 15, 2001
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Police kill seven - Pre-dawn shooting in Braeton

Virgo and Grant

By Glenroy Sinclair, Staff Reporter

THREE OF seven men shot dead by a police raiding party early yesterday morning at a house along Seal Way, Braeton, Phase 3, St. Catherine, remained unidentified up to press time last night.

The police said the men, all members of a criminal gang, were cut down during a shoot-out, a report disputed by relatives and some residents from the community. Other persons linked three of the men to Tuesday night's killing of Keith Morris, principal of the Hartlands All-Age School in St. Catherine.

The four identified yesterday were Christo-pher Grant, 17, a Cala-bar High School drop-out; Ronald "Reagan" Beckford, 15, who used to attend the Greater Portmore Comprehensive High; Andre Virgo, 17, and Tamoya Wilson 20, of Braeton, Phase 3.

Bloodstains in the pathway and bullet-riddled louvre windows of the house indicated the intensity of yesterday morning's gunfire. A telephone wire leading to the house was disconnected while water oozed from a broken pipe in the yard.

Throughout the morning and early afternoon, detectives and other uniformed policemen milled around the house, while outside a handful of residents grumbled under their breath as they watched the policemen at work.

"De whole a dem a murderer. Look wey dem kill de youth," said one woman, pointing to the blood stain in the pathway, where she claimed Virgo was cut down.

"Dem coulda carry in even two a dem," said another woman.

According to the police, just after 4:30 a.m. members of the Crime Management Unit (CMU) swooped down on the Seal Way house. The lawmen said although they identified themselves as police and asked the occupants to open the door, they were greeted with heavy gun-fire. They returned the fire and after the shooting subsided, they found four firearms, including a home-made gun, three .38 revolvers, along with ten 12-gauge cartridges, fifteen 5.56 rounds, nine .38 rounds and eight spent shells at the house. The men who were nursing gunshot wounds were taken to hospital where they were pronounced dead.

However, relatives and people in the community have denied police reports that there was a shoot-out.

"Me hear me bredda a beg dem (police) nuh fe kill him," said a tearful Sasha Beckford. "It was no shoot-out because one a de youth even dead wid him toothbrush in a him mouth," she said.

A group of residents told The Gleaner more than 40 police and soldiers swooped down on the house.

"Some were on the slab roof and others surrounded the house. Look how much a dem and not even one get shot or a scrape. This is cold blooded killing and because a poor people pickney dem nutten naaw go come out a it," the resident said.

The shooting took place at Grant's house and according to one of his aunts, Veneta Robinson, this was where "Chris and his friend cook everyday and cool out. Him was no wanted man," she sobbed.

But according to the police Grant is believed to me the man who killed Constable Dwight Gibson at the Above Rocks Police Station on March 1. Two of his cousins who were picked up in Cassava Piece yesterday morning are now in police custody.

Meanwhile a secretary at Calabar High told The Gleaner that Grant last attended classes in there in September 1999.

Greater Portmore's principal, Junior Myers, said the first week Beckford started school he was suspended for threatening a teacher.

"He was a very quiet student, but had a very bad temper. He was one of those students who did not attend school regularly," said Mr. Myers. He last attended school on November 30, 2000.

The police said their investigations later revealed that one of the guns seized has been identified as that which was robbed from Constable Gibson.

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