Thu | Dec 12, 2019

Business man shooting calls for concerns

Published:Thursday | May 27, 2010 | 6:11 PM

The fatal shooting of a businessman by members of the Jamaican security forces in the upscale St. Andrew community of East Kirkland Heights this morning has led to fresh concerns about the operations of the security forces during the present limited state of emergency.



The concerns come at a time when the death toll from the security forces operation in Tivoli Gardens continues to climb and more questions are being asked about how the police and soldiers operated in the west Kingston community.



The businessman killed was identified as 58-year-old Keith Clarke, the brother of former government minister and Gleaner columnist Claude Clarke and a brother-in-law to Children\'s Advocate Mary Clarke.



West Rural St Andrew MP Andrew Gallimore who was quick on the scene argued that if the proper rules of engagement were followed it was unlikely that Clarke would have been killed



The official report from the police was that members of a Jamaica Defence Force team went to premises on Kirkland Close in search of alleged drug kingpin Christopher \'Dudus\' Coke.



The soldiers approached a house, believed owned by one of Coke\'s business partners, when they were greeted with gunfire.



The reports say the soldiers returned the fire and the men fled.



According to the police, when the shooting ended four members of the JDF and a civilian were found with gun shot wounds.



The soldiers were taken to hospital while the civilian died on the spot.



The security officials also claimed that a firearm was seized by the JDF team.



However, that story failed to satisfy the residents, family members and friends who wanted to know why members of the security forces kicked open the door to Clarke\'s house and killed him.



Questions also surrounded the failure of the security forces to capture any of the men they said were firing at them and the inability of the soldiers to find more than one gun despite an extended period of shooting.



According to the residents, shortly after 2 a.m. yesterday, they heard an helicopter hovering in neighbourhood.



They said they heard some loud explosions and saw bright lights across the

sky before hearing approximately 20 minutes of sustained gunfire.



After a lull the gunfire resumed with sporadic shooting for the next two hours.



At day break news quickly spread that Clarke had been fatally shot.



Family members and friends who rushed to the scene begged for information without success for more than five hours as stony faced soldiers, those not covered by masks ignored all questions directed at them.



Police who arrived in the mid-morning were no better help as they extended the crime scene and prevented Clarke\'s daughter from going to the house to comfort her mother.



A minister of religion, an attorney and family members were also denied access to the widow for several hours.



Neither the police nor the soldiers offered any explanation for their position outside of the often repeated statement that no one could be allowed to enter or leave the crime scene.



The Bureau of Special Investigations has launched a probe of the shooting.