A bus driver was yesterday shot dead and two female students injured when a gunman opened fire inside a Coaster bus parked on Creek Street in this city.
The deceased was identified as Alvin Clarke, also called “Strive”, of West Gate Hills in St James. The injured girls, both 13, are students of the Maldon High School. Both were shot in the leg, but their injuries were not considered life-threatening. They were, however, admitted to hospital.
A traumatised St James High School student who witnessed the incident was also admitted to hospital.
Other frightened passengers, including students, who were sitting in the bus, ran outside, screaming, as they left the scene in a hurry.
It was speculated yesterday that Clarke’s murder was a contract killing.
According to the police, about 6:30 yesterday morning Clarke was in his Toyota Coaster bus, which was loaded with students along Creek Street, Montego Bay, when he was approached by an armed man.
The driver, in his attempt to escape, ran to the passenger door at the left side of the vehicle, but was prevented from leaving the bus by the shooter who fired several shots, hitting him. He died on the scene.
The two girls were shot as they and their schoolmates and other passengers tried to get out of the vehicle.
Clarke, who operated on the Montego Bay to Maroon Town route, a distance of more than 15 miles, once owned a number of public passenger vehicles and employed several drivers.
“… Over the past 10 or so years that man create a lot of employment for a lot of us as drivers who never own anything for ourselves. At one point he had up to five vehicles and quite a few of us were employed,” Veral Vernon, a resident of Maroon Town, said.
Clarke, he added, was a reliable driver and his death will create a void.
“He was a very good man. You see like tonight and the night shift now, passengers a go suffer, because a that man take care a people a night.”
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, who condemned the fatal shooting of the bus driver and injury of the two students, said a trauma response team was asked to visit Maldon High and offer grief-counselling services and support to the students and the teachers affected by this incident.
“The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is alarmed by this incident, and would like to express sincere condolences to the bus driver’s family and friends as they struggle with their loss during this difficult period. The ministry wishes a speedy recovery for the injured students.
“Children have to travel to and from school and are exposed to these criminals who continue to prey on civilians and our defenceless students. I would like to remind and encourage parents to ensure that children, in their daily commute, travel in groups so that they can see, assist and protect each other,” Education Minister Ruel Reid said in a statement.