JAMAICA – Killing spree . . Two children shot dead as murder toll climbs

KINGSTON – At least seven people were killed and five others wounded in a week of violence in Clarendon as murders in the southern parish continue to outpace crime-fighting measures.

The parish has so far recorded more than 90 murders since the start of the year.

Figures from the police’s Statistics and Information Management Unit showed that between January 1, 2017 and August 12, 2017, 84 people were murdered. Eighty-eight people were killed over a similar period last year.

A 13-year-old girl was among three people shot dead in Race Course late Thursday after gunmen went on a rampage in the community. The girl has since been identified as Shaniel Barthey, who is said to be the daughter of a policeman based in the parish. The police have not released the identities of the other victims.

Then on Friday, a six-year-old boy was shot dead while his mother was wounded in Effortville in the parish. She is said to be in stable condition at hospital. Another person, police said, was also wounded in that incident.

Member of Parliament for Clarendon Central Mike Henry said the gun attack on young Timothy Bassaragh and his family while they slept is “appalling”.

He stated that the loss of such an innocent life through another callous act of criminality “is a clear signal that unless the society in general decides to frontally tackle the crime monster on a collective basis, there will continue to be such dastardly disturbing acts of criminality”.

The bloodletting continued into Saturday as gunmen opened fire on a group of people minutes before 8:00 pm at a cookshop in Farm. Two people died. The police have not released their identities.

Hours before, 50-year-old Patrick Bowman was shot dead while he was working on a construction site about 5:00 pm on Sevens Road. His death, police said, is an act of reprisal.

A Jamaica Observer report in April said that the police force’s Clarendon Divisional Investigative Unit had identified 12 gangs operating in the parish. This disclosure was made after residents expressed fear while speaking to the Observer that it was only a matter of time before something disastrous happens in the parish.

Residents from Farm, Effortville, and John Crow Lane said then, that rivalry among gangs has created an “unreasonable” amount of unease throughout the different communities there.

Yesterday, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Dr Horace Chang described the killings as “callous”.

Chang, who is acting for Prime Minister Andrew Holness who left the island on Thursday for the Jamaica 55 Grand Independence Gala in New York, said what the country is witnessing is an increase in disregard for life — something he said the country cannot continue to tolerate.

“The [killing of] victims, the majority of whom are women and children, is just unacceptable and untenable. We’ll have to move aggressively to get this under control,” he told the Observer.

At the same time, he was not prepared to say when zones of special operations would be rolled out across the troubled parish.

“The Security Council examines where to go first, but as is known, Clarendon, St James, the Corporate Area, and Hanover have been the hot spots. So it’s up to the Security Council to make their recommendation to us.

“In addition to the usual police force issues and what we hope to do in the Zones of Special Operations the [security] minister will speak to.

“There are some deeper issues out there which I can’t speak to at this time, but clearly the murders are very worrying,” said Chang. 

Source: (Jamaica Observer)

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