Denham Town explodes
Fatal JDF shooting sparks wrath
“Dem kill him like a one hog dem a run down. It never needed.”
That was the graphic, solemn conclusion of an aunt of Horaine Glenn, the 32-year-old man fatally shot in an alleged confrontation with soldiers in Denham Town Saturday evening.
Pointing to the spot in the yard where Glenn was killed at 6:20 p.m., the aunt said that the now-deceased had tried to mediate a conflict between her son and a soldier.
“A my son dem a beat and him intervene … . The soldier do him wrong and him should just admit seh him wrong,” the aunt, who requested anonymity, said in a Gleaner interview on Sunday.
“Good God, man! We are people like dem. We give dem light to charge their phone, so dem don’t need to come round here and disadvantage we.”
Protests ignited in Denham Town on Sunday as irate residents set old fridges, tyres, and debris ablaze on Charles Street, North Street, and Spanish Town Road, labelling the death a “ruthless attack”.
One teenage protester at the scene, who identified herself as the cousin of the deceased, said she witnessed a soldier use a gun to hit her brother and his friend near the eyes.
“I come across and I say, ‘Soljie, no! A likkle pickney. You cannot beat them,” she said, adding that a soldier channelled his wrath towards her and struck her with his firearm.
In a late-evening press statement Sunday, the JDF reported that it had commenced an internal investigation into the civilian death and committed to cooperate with INDECOM.
Controversial shootings are not an unfamiliar narrative in Denham Town, which has a storied history of gang warfare and confrontation with the security forces.
Chronic violence is the very reason why the west Kingston community was declared a zone of special operations (ZOSO) in October 2017 – a bid by the State to combine police and army saturation with social-development projects.
But even then, tensions are regularly inflamed as deep-seated mistrust remains between civilians and the security forces.
And the claims and counterclaims in Saturday’s fatal shooting are emblematic of the divide.
Glenn’s family and neighbours paint a picture of him as an innocent mediator.
“The solders dem a beat some likkle boy and like him go there and seh, ‘You nuh see seh a likkle boy. So di soldier and him ketch up … . My aunty go draw him and carry him to the yard, and di soldier run from weh him deh and pull the gate and shoot him in di yard in front of his son,” a resident said.
But according to the Jamaica Constabulary Force, eight JDF soldiers were on foot patrol along Charles Street when they saw four men who aroused their suspicion. When they proceeded to search the individuals, they were allegedly spat on by residents. The team was then approached by Glenn, who allegedly poured the contents of a beer bottle on them.
The police said that when the team attempted to accost Glenn, he ran into a yard, where a confrontation ensued.
During the tussle, Glenn reportedly held on to a soldier’s weapon, allegedly to disarm him, and was shot four times. He sustained injuries to the abdomen and was subsequently pronounced dead at the Kingston Public Hospital.
Videos circulating on social media depict the alleged altercation between residents and the JDF shortly before the incident took place. In one video, Glenn is seen being carried away by residents after he was shoved and kicked.
Residents have vowed to continue protests this week.
Senior Superintendent Michael Phipps, who heads the Kingston Western Police Division, has called for calm.
“I am asking the residents to cooperate with the security forces in the area and not to assault members of the joint forces as we have had reports of members being assaulted by citizens,” the police commander said.
“In the meantime, we urge them not to block the roadways, and anyone who was witness to the fatal shooting should contact INDECOM, who is leading on the investigations.”
INDECOM Commissioner Hugh Faulkner said in a Television Jamaica interview that his staff had recovered spent casings and taken blood samples from the death scene. Several rifles will also be subject to ballistic testing.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness moved a motion in the House of Representatives for an extension of ZOSOs for an additional 60 days, citing major reductions in violent crimes in these communities.