Murders, shootings on the rise in Westmoreland
Westmoreland Custos Reverend Hartley Perrin has called for the deployment of a heavy concentration of the security forces to stem the rise in violent crime in the parish.
Police statistics indicate that the Westmoreland Police Division has so far recorded 26 murders since the start of this year, an increase of five over the corresponding period from January 1 to April 17 last year. Shooting is also up by 14 as of April 17 this year, with 38 reported incidents taking place across the parish.
According to Perrin, something needs to be done now because law-abiding residents have become prisoners in their homes as a result of the gun violence that is creating havoc across the parish
“This murder rate is alarming. It just can’t continue like this. It has become so frequent now that we have become numb,” Perrin told The Gleaner.
The clergyman also said that the murderous attitudes of these criminals have left fear and grief across the parish.
“This is not a state to be in. Some citizens are terrified and are living in constant fear,” said Perrin, who is pastor of the Petersfield Anglican Church.
“There is no rationale for some of the killings,” he said.
Perrin said, given the rapid uptick in shootings and murders, he will be meeting with stakeholders to see how they can devise a plan of action against crime and violence in the parish and to stem the ease with which criminals are roaming the parish, killing and maiming people.
“Something is wrong. There has to be a serious conversation with all the citizens of the parish,” he stated.
“It is so challenging now because of the COVID crisis, but I will be having a meeting with some justices of the peace for recommendations on the way forward,” he added.
Last Wednesday, three persons were shot and killed by a group of heavily armed gunmen who sprayed their homes with bullets.
According to the Morgan Bridge police in Grange Hill, the gunmen entered Crowder district at about 10:30 p.m. and opened fire on several houses in the area, killing three men. Two of the victims were found with gunshot wounds in their houses, while the third victim was found suffering from a gunshot wound along a roadway close to where the shooting took place.
On Saturday, Andrew Campbell, who attempted to defuse a fuss between two people who were among a group of partygoers attending an illegal party, was shot and killed at about 8:30 p.m. during his second attempt at seeking to cool tempers.
According to the head of the Westmoreland Police Division, Superintendent Robert Gordon, approximately three hours following that shooting, gunmen struck, killing 48-year-old car wash operator Cosmond Looney.
He said Looney was attacked at 1:20 a.m. on Sunday by heavily armed thugs.
Gordon also revealed that the investigation by his detectives has so far netted four persons of interest, who are now in police custody for questioning.