‘Tac­tic to ter­rorise’

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Livern Bar­rett Se­nior Gleaner Writer livern.bar­rett@glean­erjm.com

THE HEAD of the po­lice op­er­a­tions in west­ern Ja­maica has ex­pressed con­cern that vicious thugs in St James are tar­get­ing their ri­vals in the streets of the re­sort town to send a mes­sage to po­ten­tial wit­nesses.

That as­ser­tion by As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Warren Clarke, head of the Area One po­lice, fol­lows a string of brazen day­light killings in down­town Mon­tego Bay.

The most re­cent day­light killing, which was caught on video­tape, took place in the re­sort town last Thurs­day when 22-year-old Khani Ersk­ine was sur­prised at a gas sta­tion by men trav­el­ling in a Toy­ota mo­tor car and shot sev­eral times.

Two fe­male pump at­ten­dants were shot in the at­tack, ac­cord­ing to the po­lice.

Three days be­fore that, ac­cord­ing to the po­lice and eye­wit­nesses, a gun­man crept up be­hind Franklyn Lawrence and placed him in a choke­hold be­fore shoot­ing him twice in the head. The shoot­ing took place near the in­ter­sec­tion of Union and King streets shortly af­ter 10 that morn­ing.

For Clarke, these brazen killings are meant to drive fear into res­i­dents and dis­cour­age them from go­ing to lawen­force­ment au­thor­i­ties.

“We see it as a tac­tic to ter­rorise and to put com­mu­ni­ties in fear. It’s an

Cops claim brazen mur­ders aimed at driv­ing fear into wit­nesses

un­veiled threat to po­ten­tial wit­nesses,” said Clarke.

Since the start of the year, 199 per­sons have been murdered in St James.

That is 40 more than the cor­re­spond­ing pe­riod last year.

Yes­ter­day, there was the usual buzz of ac­tiv­ity in Sam Sharpe Square and along St James Street in down­town

Mon­tego Bay, even though some per­sons ad­mit­ted that they were fear­ful.

A 62-year-old life­long St James res­i­dent told The Gleaner that the crime sit­u­a­tion was the worst he has seen.

“When we had tribal war in MoBay, it wasn’t like this. MoBay tun up ... be­cause the young boy dem leave school and dem a deal with scam­ming and dem no par­tial,” he said in ref­er­ence

to the deadly lot­tery scam that has been blamed for the crime wave.

“Right now me ’fraid a MoBay. Dem youth yah no have no fear,” he said, me­tres from the blood-soaked spot where Lawrence was killed.

While ar­gu­ing that the po­lice can do more to stem the vi­o­lence, the el­derly man who de­clined to give his name said the po­lice alone can­not get the job done.

At the heart of the prob­lem, ac­cord­ing to Clarke, is the num­ber of un­em­ployed and “un­em­ploy­able” men in sev­eral com­mu­ni­ties across the par­ish.

“They be­come ready re­sources for il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties such as lot­tery scam­ming, as well drug and firearms traf­fick­ing,” said Clarke.

PHOTO BY RAY­MOND SIMP­SON

As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice Warren Clarke speaks with The Gleaner yes­ter­day.

A screen grab of se­cu­rity footage of gun­men fir­ing sev­eral shots at Khani Ersk­ine at a gas sta­tion in St James.

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