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'A vicious act' - Cop killed execution style in St Catherine

Published:Tuesday | February 23, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

Residents of Southboro in Portmore, St Catherine, have reacted with a mixture of bafflement and dismay to the disturbing spectacle of a policeman's body found, shot execution style, in his Toyota Hiace minibus in their community yesterday morning.

Southboro, located near volatile Newlands and Naggo Head, has been hit by violence in recent months, but the mystery associated with the clearly well-planned attack on 29-year-old Corporal Miguel Cuffe has jolted the community.

"Oh my God," breathed a female resident as Cuffe's body was removed from the vehicle in which he was killed, his hands bound behind him.

"Jamaica nah nuh better fe get," lamented another. "Dis ya country nah come back," the obviously distressed woman added.

As the women spoke in hushed tones, the body of the policeman, clad in a red T-shirt and blue jeans pants, was taken out of the Toyota Hiace bus on Laurel Road in Southboro.

Cuffe became the third policeman murdered for the year. A fourth was killed in a friendly fire incident in Montego Bay, St James.

The Gleaner
understands that well-armed men, whom he apparently knew, went to his home before dawn and called him out of the house located in neighbouring Naggo Head.

Having gained entry to the house, the men reportedly tied up his female companion before carting him off in his Toyota Hiace minibus.

The house was then set ablaze, but it is unclear how the woman, who was left behind, escaped.

Soon after, gunshots were heard in the distance.

The Gleaner
understands that Cuffe's hands were bound behind him, his neck placed outside the vehicle and the door closed before he was shot execution style in the head.

When the police arrived, they found Cuffe's Hiace bus in Southboro, a short distance from the house, with his body in it.

Hands still bound

The policeman's hands were still tied behind his back.

Set in ironic contrast, as a background to the crime scene, were murals of Jamaica's national heroes, most of whom had sacrificed their lives for Jamaicans.

There is also contradicting information on whether the policeman resided in nearby Naggo Head, only metres away from Newlands.

One report is that he rented a section of the two-storey house, from which he was called while another claim is that he had gone to visit a female friend for the weekend.

National Security Minister Dwight Nelson has echoed the sentiments of the people of Southboro.

He characterised the abduction and murder as a particularly callous and deadly assault on an agent of the state.

"To the extent that his house was burnt, before he was taken out and killed, (it) reflects an orchestrated attack on the policeman," Nelson asserted.

He said the dastardly nature of the act suggested that criminals are getting bolder and more cruel with each passing day.

Nelson also called for residents of Naggo Head to be bold in speaking out.

"It is high time that we work with each other to end the bloodshed and carnage caused by rampaging gunmen," he said.

Acting Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington has, in the meantime, conveyed deep regrets on behalf of the Jamaica Consta-bulary Force.

"The murder of Corporal Cuffe was a vicious, evil and vile act of cowardice and is yet another example of the vicious nature of criminals operating in our midst and the extent these criminals will go in order to create fear in our citizenry," he said.

Maintaining law

Ellington sought to assure residents of Naggo Head, Southboro and Newlands that the police will use every means at their disposal to maintain law and order in their communities and in the apprehension of Cuffe's killers.

He, too, called for persons with information on the murder to call Operation Kingfish; Crime Stop or Police Control.

Later yesterday, police personnel were maintaining a presence in Naggo Head at the scene of a fatal shooting.

The dead man has been identified as Ezron Morris, 33-year-old labourer of Whyte Lane, Naggo Head.

Reports from the police are that about 11 a.m. they went into the lane in search of persons involved Cuffe's murder.

When they approached a house on Whyte Lane, the police claimed they were greeted with gunfire. They returned the fire and Morris was hit.

The police said they seized an illegal gun from the scene.

As news of Morris death circulated throughout the community, residents vented their frustration at the police.

According to them, Morris was asleep when he was shot.

The Bureau of Special Investigations is conducting a probe in the matter.

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com