Sat | Jan 29, 2022

Suspected church hitman under probe for other murders

Published:Tuesday | February 2, 2021 | 12:15 AMHopeton Bucknor/Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

The gunman believed to have unleashed a deadly assault on banker Andrea Lowe-Garwood as she worshipped in a live-streamed church service in Falmouth, Trelawny, on Sunday is suspected to have been active in a number of homicides across St James since the start of the year.

Lowe-Garwood was shot dead about 10:30 a.m. during a praise and worship session at the Agape Christian Fellowship Church, triggering a series of operations by the Trelawny and St James police to nab the persons behind the murder.

Within hours, three persons – the owner of the getaway car, the driver of the rented getaway car and the victim’s stepson – were taken into custody as the hunt for the triggerman continued.

Yesterday, the suspect turned up at the Freeport Police Station in Montego Bay, St James, accompanied by his attorney, Martin Thomas.

“The [suspected] shooter, who resides in the parish of St James, in the community of Rose Heights, is now in police custody,” a senior police officer confirmed with The Gleaner yesterday, shortly after Deputy Commissioner Fitz Bailey told journalists that he has been taken in.

“We also have reasons to believe that this particular individual is a gun for hire, and was hired as a hitman to take out Lowe-Garwood,” the senior cop continued. “We also have strong reasons to believe that he may be behind several other killings that have taken place in St James since the start of the year.”

Up to last Friday, 18 people had been murdered in St James since the start of 2021, compared with four for the comparative period last year.

With the son of the Lowe-Garwood’s late husband, tour bus operator Jeffrey Garwood, among those detained, investigators have pointed to a family feud as a possible trigger to the murder. They told The Gleaner that they were aware that the victim had been receiving death threats over property she inherited after her husband’s death, which she was accused of not sharing with his relatives.

Garwood died in a motor vehicle accident along the Rose Hall main road last July.

Lowe-Garwood, who resided at Stonebrook Manor in Trelawny, was an employee of the National Commercial Bank.

National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang, who visited the murder scene, said the country needs enhanced security measures to handle the ruthless killers roaming the island.

According to Chang, murder figures since the start of 2021 have been just about trending with those for the comparative period last year. Up to last Friday, 111 persons had been killed across the island, an increase of six for the similar period in 2020.

With Jamaica having the highest homicide rate in Latin America and the Caribbean, the security minister said serious consideration must be given legislatively to make the state of emergency a constitutional crime-fighting tool.