Man murdered at anti-violence seminar in Westmoreland
Just over 48 hours after the imposition of a state of emergency (SOE) in Westmoreland, gunmen breached a UNICEF/peace management gender violence training session in Savanna-la-Mar and shot and killed a participant in broad daylight.
The dead man has been identified as 19-year-old Shadane Campbell, who is of a Dalling Street address, also in Savanna-la-Mar.
Not long after Campbell was killed, another man, who has not been identified, was shot and killed a short distance away, near the entrance to a popular hotel.
Both murders are believed to be linked.
The latest killings, which occurred on the heels of a horrific five murders in five days in the Westmoreland parish capital, are theorised to be linked to the bloody gang feud between rival factions from Dexter Street and Dalling Street.
According to an eyewitness to the killing at the training session, Campbell and another man were standing near the entrance eating during the lunch break when gunmen shot Campbell several times.
“I saw everything. They just open fire on him and I watch as he fell to the ground,” said the eyewitness. “Right now, my head feels like it is just going to split open ... . It is as if the shots are still ringing in my head. It was a terrible sight to watch it all happening right in front of my eyes.”
Over recent weeks, Savanna-la-Mar has been a hotbed of gun violence, which triggered Sunday’s decision to incorporate it in a tri-parish state of emergency, along with Hanover and St James, in western Jamaica.
SOEs were also declared in four other police divisions – St Andrew South, Kingston Central, Kingston Eastern, and Kingston Western.
Jamaica’s murder rate has climbed year-on-year by 10 per cent. More than 1,240 people have been killed.
Two days ago, Deputy Superintendent Adrian Hamilton, operations officer for the parish, threw down the gauntlet to gangsters, saying they should either turn themselves in or be prepared to face justice.
Prior to Tuesday’s shootings, Moses Chybar, president of the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, raised concerns about the limited size of the police contingent serving the parish to combat heavily armed gangsters.
“In order to mitigate the rise in crime, we need to increase the number of policemen and women,” said Chybar, who is also lobbying for closed-circuit television surveillance coverage to be widened throughout the police division.
“We have for too long been doing the same things, using the same old methods. Therefore, the result remains the same,” he said.
Data provided by the Jamaica Constabulary Force show that prior to the declaration of the SOE, Westmoreland had recorded 106 murders between January 1 and November 13, an increase of 39, or 58.2 per cent, over the comparative period in 2020.
“Westmoreland needs to be upgraded to a super division, with more personnel and vehicles,” said Chybar.
“We urgently need to get resources for social intervention, especially in the areas where the majority of crimes are being committed.’’