Since the start of this year, a bloody gang war has claimed at least three lives in the Nine Miles to 11 Miles section of Bull Bay, St Andrew, with the violence spilling into the neighbouring Grants Pen in St Thomas.
The killings have occurred below the national radar, and residents claim that this is a deliberate move by the authorities, including the police, to keep the level of bloodletting hush-hush.
The residents alleged that more than 20 persons were killed in the area late last year as they shared horrific tales of murders, arson and abductions in the community.
NOBODY IS TALKING
“People house burn dung. Man a dead left, right and centre, and those things never make it on the news yet. Honestly, I surprise they don’t drop ZOSO (zone of special operations) down here yet,” said one resident of Nine Miles last week.
“Everybody know what is happening in Bull Bay, but nobody nah talk. Not even the police them talking. And it is a political thing, because it is the prime minister’s wife constituency and they don’t want the thing to look bad,” argued the resident in reference to Juliet Holness, the member of parliament for East Rural St Andrew.
An elderly female added: “No care the amount of death that is taking place in Bull Bay, we never hear it in the news, we never see it in the paper. Everything in Bull Bay is just hushed.
“The whole of Bull Bay will have to dead off before they come and do something. If the MP come down here and talk to the youths them, maybe they would stop, but not even she we can see.”
Her views were echoed by several other residents who warned against venturing into areas such as Gypsum Road in 10 Miles, where two persons were shot dead recently.
One of the victims was 23-year-old Chiyano ‘Dwayne’ Lewis. He was peppered with bullets on January 2, after he reportedly crossed a bridge which serves as the unofficial borderline for warring factions in 10 and 11 Miles.
Hours later, 63-year-old machine operator Cumi Daley was shot and killed by gunmen along the same road. Their deaths followed the murder of a businessman in the 10 Miles area one week earlier.
Residents also claim that one man has not been seen, and is feared dead, since he was abducted by gunmen some three weeks ago.
Last Wednesday, residents attributed some of the deaths to gang reprisals and a refusal by some business operators to meet extortion demands as high as $100,000 per week.
The residents all agreed that Lewis was an “innocent youth”, and argued that his death shows the ruthlessness of killers in the area.
Lewis’ aunt, Muriel Ranger, shook with grief as she recalled hearing the explosions that signalled the end of her nephew’s life two Wednesdays ago.
“I’m really shaken up. Today has been the best day for me since his death. I have to pick up back the strength in my limbs, but it leaves me very perturbed,” said Ranger.
“This is a child that doesn’t give problems, and I can’t understand why if you are looking for somebody else you don’t look for who you want to look for. Why do you shoot an innocent person?” added Ranger.
The killings have forced staff at a post office and clinic in the community to start working later than usual in the mornings and to close their doors before nightfall.
GREATER POLICE PRESENCE
The Bull Bay main road has also been reduced to a deserted stretch as most people stay indoors rather than venturing to the many bars and shops that were once popular, cool-out spots, particularly for the unemployed.
The residents are demanding greater protection from the police. They noted that the gangsters are spread across two police divisions, with 10 Miles in the Kingston East Police, while 11 Miles is under the jurisdiction of the St Thomas Police.
Superintendent Victor Hamilton, head of the Kingston East Police Division, last week said he was aware of the incidents but could not offer details on the investigations.
“We are very concerned, and as the agency with the responsibility to serve and protect the community, the residents can rest assured that we will do everything in our power to alleviate their fears,” said Hamilton as he promised greater police presence in the area.
Head of the St Thomas Police Division, Superintendent Marlene Wilson-Christie, said, “What you just said to me is exactly what we know. We don’t know anything more. The residents are not coming forward to us with information,” said Wilson-Christie
“There are some players whose names are being called but nobody is saying who they are and where they are.
“We have 24-hour policing inside the area, but the people are not really communicating with us. The police were in the area when there were those murders recently, it is just that we were in another part of the community,” added Wilson-Christie.