Thu | Aug 22, 2019

Western Jamaica bleeding again - Eight murders in 15 days

Published:Thursday | January 17, 2019 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater and Hopeton Bucknor/Gleaner Writers
Superintendent Sharon Beeput, the commanding officer for the Hanover Police Division.

WESTERN BUREAU:

As was the case last year when the Government was forced to declare a state of public emergency (SOE) in St James and beef up security across the other western parishes, killers are again on the loose in the region, with eight murders committed in the first 15 days of the new year.

The carnage continued in St James and Hanover on Tuesday when two men perished at the hands of gangsters, who are seemingly prepared to play the proverbial 'cat and mouse' game with the security forces to carry out their murderous acts.

The Salt Spring Road community in Montego Bay, which is one of the most heavily policed areas in St James, erupted into violence shortly before 6 p.m. on Tuesday when gunmen attacked and slaughtered 38-year-old shopkeeper/ tattoo artist Amar Anthony Watkins, who is popularly known as 'Lizard'.

Residents of Salt Spring Road openly expressed fear as they congregated to look at Watkins' body, which had multiple bullet wounds. The killers reportedly fled on foot in the community.

"If the SOE nuh done yet and dem start the murdering again, we are in fi some rough times going forward," a woman said. "De guns dem still de yah, and di man dem wha a fire dem clearly nuh fraid a di police and soldiers. Mi belly a tremble. Right now mi fraid."

 

MORE SCAM-RELATED THAN GANG-RELATED

 

Hanover, which had three murders last week, was rocked by yet another murder shortly after 9 p.m. on Tuesday when 23-year-old Kevon Cunningham, a labourer of Montpelier in Sandy Bay, was attacked and shot multiple times by gunmen along a main road in the community.

Hanover's commanding officer, Superintendent Sharon Beeput, is urging residents not to panic as according to her, the police will be doing all they can to ensure that criminals don't operate with impunity.

"We have all but dismantled the gangs, and most of the gangsters are now out of circulation," said Beeput. "These latest incidents are more scam-related than gang-related, and we are working hard to put an end to these incidents."

While Trelawny is yet to register a murder this year, the parish is considered far from safe as earlier this week, three firearms - an AK47 rifle, one M16 rifle, and a Beretta pistol - and 59 assorted rounds of ammunition were seized during police operations in the parish.