WHILE THE country observed National Heroes Day in honour of those who had contributed significantly to the struggles for freedom and nation building, criminals were busy taking the lives of seven Jamaicans.
Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington told members of the Internal and External Affairs Committee of Parliament yesterday that gunmen also shot 16 Jamaicans between Saturday and Sunday.
Not for the first time, the commissioner echoed his call for legislation to impose mandatory minimum sentences for persons who commit serious crimes.
One of the victims of Monday's bloodletting was a young woman who was robbed earlier this year. She is 27-year-old Sasha-Gay Coffee, legal clerk of West Cumberland, Greater Portmore, St Catherine.
According to Ellington, Coffee was at her home when the robbery suspect pounced on her, shooting her in the head and in the stomach. She reportedly died at hospital. Reports are that a suspect has since been detained by the police.
Ellington said despite an average of 600 illegal guns seized in Jamaica each year - with the police taking 40 off the streets in the last month - criminals appear to have easy access to firearms and ammunition.
The police indicated that a large percentage of the guns recovered in Jamaica had their origin in the United States; however, he said, some of the illegal firearms entered Jamaica from other countries through the drug trade.
He said even with increased police operations, the propensity for criminals to carry out acts of violence has not waned.
More than 1,000 people die violently in Jamaica each year.