THE St Andrew Central police have intensified their search for a homosexual man known to frequent the Shoemaker Gully at Trafalgar Road in New Kingston in relation to the murder of a man in May.
The fugitive has been identified as Jevaughn Francis, also called ‘Pebbles’.
Police said that in the early hours of Sunday May 18 this year, a man was using his cellular phone while walking by the spot, now called the ‘Gay Bridge’, when he was attacked and dragged into the gully and stabbed repeatedly after he resisted being robbed.
According to Commander Christopher Murdock, who is in charge of the New Kingston Police Post, the man managed to flee through one of several tunnels in the gully before emerging on Dumfries Road where he was rescued by members of a police team.
The victim died the following day but was able to provide a description of the man who robbed and stabbed him.
“He spoke with the officers and described the man who attacked and his description of them fit Francis,” Murdock told the Jamaica Observer.
The dead man has been identified as 18-year-old Rasheed Samuda of Myers Street in Kingston 12.
Francis is also wanted for several robberies committed in the New Kingston area at nights.
The night before the fatal attack, another man who was walking past the gay bridge was also attacked and stabbed after he resisted attempts by two men to steal his cellular phone.
“The man was walking by using his phone when he felt someone hit the phone out of his hand and when he tried to resist he was stabbed in the arm. He kicked the person and was stabbed in the leg,” Murdock said.
“He almost died on us because the main vein in his arm was severed and he was bleeding heavily. His description of the men who robbed him fit a man known as Ramon Francis, also called ‘Teetus’ or ‘Ishana’,” he added.
Francis was taken into custody in connection with the incident.
Foreign media and gay lobbyists portray the men as the victims of homophobic attacks. However, the police say that the men who live and hang out at the Shoemaker Gully are responsible for serious crimes, ranging from murder, shootings, robberies, unlawful wounding, assault, house break-ins, car break-ins, larceny to malicious destruction of property.
“They are known to have lured people in their environment and robbed them. If you resist the result can be deadly,” a senior cop said.
Weeks ago an overseas-based pilot who had read about the plight of the homeless gays who were living in gully, decided to visit the area to talk with them and take pictures of the gay men, but to his surprise he was attacked by men armed with knives and other implements who relieved him of his camera and other valuables and ordered him to leave the area hastily.
The men who often dress in drag and pose as prostitutes, live subnormal lives and according to the police, pose a serious threat to the New Kingston environment.
The St Andrew Central police say that between December 2013 and May this year 45 major crimes have been reported in the New Kingston area, most of them believed to be committed by the gays who reside in the gully.
The crimes include three murders, two shootings, 24 robberies, 11 break-ins and four larcenies.
Police say that they have strong evidence that more than 90 per cent of the robberies were perpetrated by persons purported to be members of the gay community.
Residents of the nearby Trafalgar Park say they are being held under siege by some of the gay men who prey on their homes and rob them with impunity.
One resident said he suffered a broken jaw as a result of resisting robbers.
“I was walking home one evening and they tried to rob me and I resisted. They hit me in the face with a blunt object and broke my jaw. I had to undergo surgery to repair my face. It was very painful,” the man said.
Other residents said that their homes and cars were broken into regularly and the thieves seem to be targeting laptops, tablets and cellular phones although one homeowner reported losing a flat-screen television set and other appliances.
“They are a nuisance to the community. They even tried to rob a woman who was going to church with her daughter one Sunday morning. They grabbed at her handbag and when she resisted they threw acid at her. She was lucky to escape harm,” one resident said.
“One resident came here to make a report that he could not sleep as they were going through the community making all kinds of sounds and noise. Maybe it’s a diversion, a distraction and they then break into other houses,” Murdock said.
In addition to committing serious crimes, the police say they have been receiving regular reports from staff at three businessplaces in close proximity to the bridge that they are being subjected to harassment and threats of violence.
One man who works at an established business in New Kingston recounted how he barely escaped injury from the group of rowdy gays.
“It was just getting dark and I was leaving work and walking towards Half-Way-Tree on Trafalgar Road. I never even looked at them but they were intent on getting my attention and started making calls, telling what kind of sexual favours they were willing to perform on me. I told them that they were not my type and that them fi gway. By the time I knew what was going on they started running towards me and one of them had a knife. I had to run for my life,” the man said.
Murdock said that he has received reports that the men are not only selling themselves to willing customers but are harassing passers-by, even though they know those persons are not interested in doing business with them.
Another man told the Sunday Observer that he was propositioned by the male prostitutes and given a tongue lashing when he spurned their advances.
The men are openly prostituting themselves, but the archaic nature of the law results in them being back on the street in no time if the police charge them for prostitution, loitering or indecent language as the fines are not prohibitive.
“They even laugh at us and say the money soon pay and is not them going pay the money,” one cop said.
The men, who live in the gully, number fewer than 10 but at nights their numbers can swell to almost 50, the police said.
“They say they are homeless, but if you go there in the day you only see a few. But at nights they come out in their numbers. A lot of them live in the inner city but only pose as if they are homeless,” Murdock said.
Some of their number were among several men who had captured a house at Millsborough Avenue in the upscale community of Barbican and caused untold woe for the residents, some of whom complained that they were bathing naked on the driveway and stealing their property.
The men were eventually evicted and the house demolished.
When contacted by the Sunday Observer, Jamaica Forum for All-sexuals and Gays and Lesbians (JFLAG) Executive Director Dane Lewis said that the organisation does not condone criminality and urged the police to do their jobs regardless of the sexual orientation of the person accused of committing a crime.
The men pose a serious health hazard also, as they defecate in the gully where makeshift beds are set up in one of the tunnels which lead out of the gully.
“It is just a health risk for these persons who are living under there. Should it rain suddenly, not necessarily in New Kingston, but if the water comes rushing from further up, then you know what can happen,” Murdock said.
But Murdock is not about to employ only a hard-nosed policing approach to deal with the problem of the diverse males in the Shoemaker Gully, whose presence, he says, is a disaster waiting to happen.
He has developed a Power Point presentation which has been distributed to various stakeholders with whom he plans to meet to suggest a way forward in terms of solving the problem.
Murdock said that he was planning on meeting with the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVCC), JFLAG, Jamaica Aids Support For Life, the Child Development Agency, the KSAC City Engineer, the National Solid Waste Management Authority, head of the St Andrew Central Division, Senior Superintendent Fitz Bailey, Member of Parliament Julian Robinson, Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown-Burke, Councillor for the Trafalgar Park Division, Kari Douglas and representatives from USAID.
“We are trying to find a solution for these persons. It is not about transferring the problem. If you move them from the Shoemaker Gully they are going to become a problem to some other areas,” he said.