Fri | Jul 1, 2016

Hell in hospital - Security beefed up at health facilities islandwide after May Pen murder

Published:Wednesday | January 16, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Ministry of Health officials leave the May Pen Hospital while a policeman stands by the entrance to the facility after the murder of a patient by gunmen on Monday night. - photos by Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer
Policemen walk the corridors of the May Pen Hospital after Monday night's incident. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer

Livern Barrett and Horace Fisher, Gleaner Writers

The brazen murder of an injured man by masked gunmen who invaded the May Pen Hospital, in Clarendon, yesterday has prompted the Jamaican police and health officials to undertake a review of security arrangements at all public hospitals.

At the same time, the Police High Command has announced that the National Intelligence Bureau will immediately begin conducting risk assessments on every patient admitted to public hospitals with a gunshot wound.

"(This) with a view of briefing local police and private security firms employed by the hospitals so that pre-emptive measures can be taken if necessary," the high command explained.

In the interim, however, the high command said a police post would be immediately established at the hospital to improve security for employees and patients.

The measures were announced after Mayor of May Pen Scean Barnswell, Deputy Commissioner of Police Glenmore Hinds, officials from the health ministry and local pastors met with traumatised employees at the hospital.

Adiff Washington, 37, was shot four times as he lay wounded in a ward at the May Pen Hospital early yesterday morning.

Eyewitnesses told The Gleaner that he was killed by two masked men who surprised the security guards posted outside the ward.

"One a dem put di gun to the security guard head and den dem come inside (got past a grilled gate) den another one run past, go pan the ward and den a bare shot," one eyewitness recounted.

Washington, who was out on bail pending trial for attempted murder and kidnapping, was hospitalised after he was shot and injured on Sunday.

The Independent Commission of Investi-gations (INDECOM) revealed yesterday that Washington had given one of its investigators a statement the same day claiming he was shot by a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

Senior public relations officer at INDECOM Kahmile Reid said an investigator has been assigned to the case and gave the assurance that it would be pursued.

Superintendent Michael Bailey, who heads the Clarendon Police, declined to comment on INDECOM's claim.

The killing has left angry relatives of Washington searching for answers, even as they ponder their own safety.

One relative, Tracey Harvey, said she believed Washington was killed because he could identify the person who shot him on Sunday.

Harvey expressed fear that her family would be targeted, but pledged to seek justice for him.

"This one not going to get sweep under the carpet. We are going to get to the bottom of this one," Harvey told The Gleaner.

"How can you have a patient who made a statement to the police regarding his attackers and he wasn't given any security? So nobody is safe in the hospital then," she added.

Bailey said Washington was not placed under police guard because he was not wanted for a crime.

Officials at the Southern Regional Health Authority also visited the hospital yesterday to review the security arrangements there, but declined repeated requests for a comment.