Hero cops save six
A team of officers from the Kingston Eastern Division is being hailed for its gallantry after they jumped into a burning house to save six people, including the armed criminal who set the place ablaze to elude them.
The officers had to intervene early yesterday morning, after the irate man barricaded himself inside his Bayshore house with his common-law wife and four children, ages 16, 11, seven and nine months old. Then he set the place ablaze, claiming he would rather kill himself and his family than go into police custody.
Detective Sergeant Lucas Barker, who, led the team along with Constable Glendon Campbell, told THE STAR that the ordeal began when they were summoned to the community, after getting reports of a shooting.
The injured man was taken to hospital and has been admitted in serious condition.
Wanted for robbery
When Barker and his team began gathering clues, they observed a motor car nearby. Further checks revealed that it was owned by a man wanted for robbery with aggravation.
"We went to a house where we told the man that the police had interest in him. He told us from the initial contact that he was not opening any door, and that he was going to use flammable substances to start a fire, and he began barricading all entrances to the house," said Baker, who has spent 28 years in the force.
"We were there from about 1 a.m. to about 2:45 a.m., negotiating with him to get him to calm down but he refused," Barker said, adding that officers then noticed thick smoke coming from the kitchen.
By then, the massive fire had started spreading to the living room, where the family was being held captive by the man armed with a machete.
"We dug off the front door and the grille, but we noticed a settee blocking the door, so I used a piece of board to push it away. Then I told the mother to come out, but the man was telling them to go back in the room and they were obviously afraid of him" Barker recalled.
Eventually, the cops managed to pull the woman and children from the blaze, and arrest the man.
Barker, who shared that he is the father of a 10-month-old baby, said he didn't think twice to jump into the fire because he is sworn to serve and protect.
"It is my fundamental duty. Personally, I love children, and I love babies so I wasn't thinking of my own safety at the time. My whole intention was to save the children," Barker said.