Cops claim that... Slain men were selling illegal guns
YESTERDAY’s fiery protest after the fatal shooting by the police of four men in Old Harbour Bay, St Catherine, has been condemned by some residents, who told THE STAR they are tired of cowering in fear of men involved in the drugs-for-guns trade.
All hell broke loose in the traditional fishing community yesterday afternoon, sometime after three o’clock, when a police team tried to enter a building where suspected drugs-for-guns activities were being conducted.
The police said they were met with gunfire and had to retaliate, resulting in the fatal shooting of four men. The lawmen said they recovered three firearms, after the shooting.
Residents nearby disputed the police account and a fiery protest ensued, resulting in a police vehicle being torched.
However, THE STAR spoke with two residents, one a businessman, who gave a different account of the incident, while the other said most persons in the Old Harbour Bay area are aware of what goes on in the drugs-for-guns trade, but are not being honest much to the detriment of the community.
“A lie, di police dem did a fight fi dem life. People si seh di police dem a fire an a fight fi dem life. Everybody know di boy dem in deh a sell gun, an when di police surprise dem, dem fire pan di police. Dem shouldn’t bun up di vehicle, a almshouse thing dat,” a resident told THE STAR.
“Di man dem a tun di place in a gun supermarket. Di whole a dem a part a Bruk Up gang, and dats why people a dead a Old Harbour. All type a man a cum buy gun dung yah. Di whole a dem in deh a dat dem do an a cause violence in a di place,” he added.
main transhipment points
An Old Harbour Bay businessman said the behaviour of some of the residents was out of ignorance. “Old Harbour Bay is one of the main transhipment points for drugs and guns in Jamaica. It is a known area for that. Normally, the guns don’t stay here, but some shootings have been taking place in the area recently. The guns don’t stay there, but you have people who are known to be in the business of selling guns. The guns come in from Haiti and men from west Kingston, Waterhouse, and as far as MoBay come to buy guns.
“The police started getting to them some time ago and they moved the operation to Rocky Point, but they’re now back. A lot of men, you see them fishing today, tomorrow he is doing something different. Selling guns is like an extra income for them,” he said, adding, “by tomorrow you will hear far more about this.”
Crime Chief for St Catherine South, Fitz Richards, told THE STAR last night that the police knew the place where the men were killed was being used as a sales depot for illegal guns. “We got the intelligence and that’s why we went there,” he said. “It was a planned operation and we even found money on the scene.”
Richards denied reports that work was being done on the building where the men were killed. “It (work) had stopped, so they used the opportunity to do their illegal business from there,” he said.
Contacted yesterday, Everald Warmington, the member of parliament for South West St Catherine where Old Harbour falls, said he had limited knowledge of the incident. “I don’t know anything, I have no idea about it ... I can’t say anything about it,” the MP said.
The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) is investigating the shooting.