Mon | May 27, 2019

West shoots past 100-murder mark

Published:Tuesday | April 23, 2019 | 12:15 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor

Western Bureau:

Despite the many new policing initiatives and promises to curtail the rampant lawlessness plaguing the western region, the latest crime figures indicate that the region’s murder tally for 2019 has now exceeded 100, reaching 110 over the Easter weekend.

“It is not a happy time for the police, but we can’t throw up our hands. We just have to continue doing our best,” a senior lawman told The Gleaner. “On Sunday, while we should be celebrating the seizure of four illegal guns in Hanover, we had to spend the day worrying about our colleague, Constable Sheldon Murray, who was shot in Norwood, St James.”

The latest figures reveal that St James – which had a dramatic reduction in murders last year, with 102 homicides recorded as opposed to 341 in 2017 – has already seen 48 people being killed by criminals this year.

In addition to the shooting of the policeman, gunmen were quite active in St James on the weekend, killing two men and wounding two others. Those killed were identified as Jermaine ‘Junior’ Johnson, a 28-year-old furniture maker of Providence Heights, near Flankers; and Romario ‘Bigga’ Chin, also 28 years old, of Paradise Rowe in downtown Montego Bay.

In the incident in which Chin was killed, heavily armed gangsters invaded a party, firing multiple shots and hitting several persons.

Within recent weeks, several prominent residents, including Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, banker Winston Lawson, have been pleading for more drastic security measures in Montego Bay, where once insulated areas like the Jimmy Cliff Boulevard are now being targeted by marauding gangsters.

In Westmoreland, which was the most murderous of the western parishes last year with 141 murders, the bloodletting continues with 43 murders registered this year.

“We are between a rock and a hard place. The police are being significantly challenged because our criminals are heartless men, who seem to be inspired by the need to prove how wicked they are,” a frustrated Westmoreland businessman told The Gleaner yesterday. “St James is getting priority treatment because Government depends a lot on tourism to generate earnings.”

Hanover and Trelawny – the remaining two parishes in the police’s Area One region – had recorded 11 and eight murders, respectively, up to April 6.

adrian.frater@gleanerjm.com