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US Embassy scare

Published:Wednesday | April 1, 2015 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Visa applicants stand across the road from the United States Embassy in Kingston after a man reportedly threw a bag over the perimeter wall yesterday.
Jamaica Defence Force personnel at the United States Embassy in St Andrew after a man reportedly threw a bag over the perimeter wall yesterday.
Law enforcement personnel secure the area surrounding the US Embassy.
United States Marines patrol the roof of the United States Embassy shortly after the incident.
Visa applicants stand across the road from the United States Embassy after the incident.

A little more than a week before United States President Barack Obama is scheduled to make an official visit to Jamaica, the local police and security personnel at the US Embassy in St Andrew were forced to spring into action yesterday, as they apprehended a Caucasian man who threw a bag over the perimeter wall of the US Embassy on Old Hope Road and tried to escape.

Eyewitnesses told The Gleaner that the police and US security personnel moved swiftly to accost the man who struggled vigorously to free himself from the grasp of the lawmen. However, despite frantic attempts to break free the man was subsequently subdued and taken on to the premises of the embassy.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Devon Watkis told The Gleaner yesterday evening that the suspect was still being interrogated and others were being interviewed in relation to the matter.

"But I want to reassure you that there is nothing significant so far that would warrant us to advise Jamaicans to adjust their life in anyway," the senior police officer reported.

Asked about the contents in the bag that was hurled onto the premises, Watkis said the police would withhold that information until they complete their probe.

When The Gleaner news team arrived on the scene, US Marines were seen strategically perched on top of the US embassy heavily armed and overlooking the surroundings of the embassy.

Jamaica Defence Force personnel were also seen along the perimeter wall of the embassy.

Curious onlookers including residents from the Cedar Valley community gathered at the entrance to their community - about 30 metres across from the embassy - observing the local police and officials from the embassy, who were discussing the earlier event.

Investigations continue

Scores of Jamaicans who had appointments with the US Embassy stood close to the Cedar Valley community in the heat of the mid-morning sun, waiting patiently for information from the embassy staff.

Counsellor for Public Affairs at the US Embassy Joshua Polacheck told The Gleaner that embassy officials were working with local law-enforcement personnel as they continue their investigations into the incident.

"The staff of the embassy goes into typical security procedure when an incident of this type takes place," he pointed out.

Polacheck said the US Embassy was closed temporarily, while investigations were being conducted.

"The latest update that I have is that it is a temporary closure and we are working with the Jamaican authorities to reopen to the public as soon as possible," Polacheck advised earlier.