Funeral fears in August Town - Seven shot, four fatally, as gang war intensifies
The police have promised to be out in their numbers in August Town, St Andrew, today with the funerals of two prominent community members scheduled to take place.
Yesterday, residents in the community spoke in whispers following a quadruple murder that many believe was a reprisal for the killing of one of the men to be buried today.
Seven persons were shot at about 10:30 p.m. on Friday night as gunmen barged into the Happy Corner Bar, metres from the main entrance to the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, and opened fire on the operator and patrons.
Among the dead are Ricardo Clarke and 37-year-old Ricardo Manhertz, both residents of the area. The identities of the two other dead men and the three persons nursing gunshot wounds were not released up to press time.
Police investigators are probing reports that the shooting was a reprisal for the killing of 30-year-old Dwight Stewart, otherwise called 'FT', on December 29.
Stewart hailed from the section of the community known as Bedward Gardens, otherwise called 'River', and men in the area had vowed to avenge his death, which they blamed on their rivals from the 'Jungle 12' area.
Sources told The Sunday Gleaner that $150,000 is being offered to anyone who kills the persons involved in killing Stewart, and the police say that they have also heard this.
"We are taking it very serious. All antennas are up. Since the [Stewart] shooting, we have had a lot of activities that are said to be reprisals, so we anticipate that the funeral will be cause for concern," said Inspector Stephen Taylor, subofficer in charge of the August Town Police Station.
Taylor, and at least three patrol teams, spent much of yesterday responding to several tips about men hiding out in the community with guns but failed to nab them.
Another former gangster, Randy Evans, who was reportedly killed in December after he failed to carry out an order issued by incarcerated gang leader Christopher 'Dog Paw' Linton, will also be buried today, and his funeral will be held in the August Town area.
"The August Town community suffers a lot from criminal activities, however, the police are trying to do as much as possible. We want to reassure the residents that the police are doing everything in their power," said Taylor.
But that is little comfort for Cassandra Graham, mother of Manhertz's two-year-old child.
Yesterday, she shook violently as she wept over the bloodied tiles where her babyfather's body lay earlier.
According to Graham, minutes before the shooting started, she was speaking to him and had to run for cover when she heard the explosions. She returned minutes later to find him dead.