HELL WEEK IN MOBAY

At least 15 killed as gun­men scorch city

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Corey Robin­son Staff Re­porter

I have never ex­pe­ri­enced any­thing like that. I feel sick. I could not drive back home.

FOR SOME res­i­dents of Mon­tego Bay, St James, it is the smell of blood which will be their last­ing mem­ory of last week. For oth­ers, it will be the sound of gun­fire and the acrid smell of gun smoke. Still oth­ers will never for­get the haunt­ing cries of per­sons who had their friends and rel­a­tives killed by ma­raud­ing gun­men.

But they all agree the uni­form mem­ory will be the fear that one could al­most touch in the re­sort town as crim­i­nals, many still in their teenage years, held en­tire com­mu­ni­ties hostage as they fought for a prize no one seems able to claim.

At the end of the week, the unofficial count was at least 15 per­sons slaugh­tered by gun­men, three killed by the po­lice and sev­eral ar­eas stained by the blood of the in­no­cent and guilty alike.

Strug­gling to cope, Mon­tego Bay res­i­dents called for a state of emer­gency, in­creased po­lice pres­ence, dra­co­nian mea­sures to deal with crim­i­nals, but up to Fri­day night the killings con­tin­ued de­spite claims from Na­tional Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Robert Mon­tague Fri­day morn­ing that ad­di­tional de­ploy­ment of po­lice and sol­diers to the area had con­tained the crime.

Yes­ter­day, Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Carl Wil­liams was care­ful not to re­peat Mon­tague’s seem­ing pre­ma­ture pro­nounce­ment, as he ex­pressed con­fi­dence that the po­lice would be able to tame the mon­ster that claimed at least 192 lives in and around Mon­tego Bay since the start of this year.

“The po­lice are not help­less. The po­lice are do­ing the best they can,” Wil­liams told The Sun­day Gleaner hours af­ter three per­sons were killed in the western city de­spite the in­creased po­lice and mil­i­tary pres­ence.

“It was re­ally a dif­fi­cult week for us. Right now, we are try­ing to put a lid on the vi­o­lence. We are pur­su­ing the in­sti­ga­tors and the per­sons who are the shoot­ers, those who are in any way in sup­port of the vi­o­lence right now,” added Wil­liams.

He listed Mount Salem, Nor­wood, A cel­lu­lar phone pic­ture of a young man hold­ing what ap­pears to be two new high-pow­ered ri­fles in a com­mu­nity in Mon­tego Bay, St James, last week.

Glen­de­von, Flankers, Barry Town and the Mon­tego Bay town cen­tre among the ar­eas where po­lice and mil­i­tary pres­ence have been con­cen­trated.

Ac­cord­ing to Wil­liams, cur­fews are one strat­egy be­ing used by the cops to deal with the Mon­tego Bay vi­o­lence, but he would not com­ment on calls for a state of emer­gency.

“That I will not be dis­cussing, I will not be dis­cussing any state of emer­gency,” said Wil­liams.

“The cur­fews have been on since the day be­fore last night (Thurs­day) and they are go­ing on tonight and to­mor­row (Sun­day) and for as long as they are nec­es­sary in the prob­lem ar­eas,” added Wil­liams.

Late yes­ter­day the po­lice listed 10 per­sons who were wanted for mur­der and six per­sons of in­ter­est who were wanted for ques­tion­ing.

SPE­CIAL AT­TEN­TION FOR MOUNT SALEM

With Mount Salem listed as one of the prob­lems ar­eas to re­ceive spe­cial at­ten­tion of the po­lice, some res­i­dents of that com­mu­nity told our news team yes­ter­day that they are liv­ing in fear, with many look­ing for a place to run to.

This fol­lowed the killing of Robert James, 35, and Ke­moy Nel­son who were pep­pered with bul­lets out­side their gate in Mount Salem about 8:30 last Fri­day night.

The po­lice say they were stand­ing on the

road­way when two men aboard a mo­tor­cy­cle drove up and the pil­lion rider opened fire. James and Nel­son, were taken to the Corn­wall Re­gional Hos­pi­tal where they were pro­nounced dead.

That in­ci­dent came less than two hours af­ter po­lice had started pro­cess­ing a scene on Church Street where 21-year-old Keith Mor­gan was at­tacked and stabbed to death.

He was re­port­edly chased by an at­tacker into a taxi where he sought refuge. The at­tacker broke one of the win­dows to the ve­hi­cle to get to Mor­gan and stabbed him mul­ti­ple times as he cow­ered in the ve­hi­cle.

Those killings were added to a string of oth­ers, in­clud­ing that of Bobby Clarke of Nor­wood, who was chased by gun­men trav­el­ling in two mo­tor cars and pep­pered with bul­lets on the Iron­shore main road about 11 a.m. last Thurs­day.

One young­ster who wit­nessed Clarke’s mur­der told our news team yes­ter­day that she was trau­ma­tised, and afraid of ven­tur­ing into the city.

“I have never ex­pe­ri­enced any­thing like that. I feel sick. I could not drive back home,” said the young woman.

Less than two hours later, the gun­men were at it again, with four per­sons shot dur­ing a drive-by shoot­ing at a mini-mart in Nor­wood. At 5 p.m., an­other shoot­ing was

eported at a gas sta­tion on the Sun Val­ley Road in Glen­de­von.

In that in­ci­dent, three per­sons were shot with one suc­cumb­ing to his in­juries.

“This is mad­ness,” de­clared one res­i­dent as she ar­gued that a ma­jor coali­tion is needed to fight the crim­i­nals.

Some Mon­tego Bay res­i­dents were left so wor­ried last week, they de­manded the re­lease of their chil­dren from schools long be­fore dis­missal last Fri­day. Among some of the schools af­fected were Corn­wall Col­lege, Mon­tego Bay and Mt Alver­nia High.

NO STATE OF EMER­GENCY

It was against this back­ground that Mon­tague de­clared that the vi­o­lence in Mon­tego Bay had been con­tained, and an­nounced that the po­lice had cap­tured two men be­lieved to be heav­ily in­volved in the killings.

Mon­tague also hinted that he would not sup­port a state of emer­gency for the city.

“There is noth­ing be­tween the cur­few and a state of emer­gency, and I would like to place on the ta­ble for na­tional dis­cus­sion ... the ques­tion of some in­stru­ment to put in the tool­box of the se­cu­rity forces that fits be­tween cur­few and a state of emer­gency,” said Mon­tague.

Yes­ter­day, for­mer se­cu­rity min­is­ter Peter Bunt­ing also in­di­cated that he would not sup­port a state of emer­gency.

“What we need is a sense of ur­gency and not a state of emer­gency to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion in St James,” Bunt­ing told our news team, as he chided Mon­tague for his pre­ma­ture dec­la­ra­tion that crime has been con­tained in Mon­tego Bay.

“Mr Mon­tague came out and said that calm has been re­stored. That was yes­ter­day (Fri­day) af­ter­noon and I thought that was a bit pre­ma­ture. I guess that three mur­ders overnight is his idea of calm be­ing re­stored,” added Bunt­ing, who has called for a high-level stake­hold­ers meet­ing chaired by Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness to ad­dress crime.

Hol­ness is re­port­edly to visit Mon­tego Bay to­day on his re­turn from New York, where he at­tended the 71st ses­sion of the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly.

Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Dr Carl Wil­liams

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