The killing of 18-year-old Akeem Samuels at Sterling District, Morgan’s Bridge, Westmoreland on Sunday, has re-ignited the police’s crime-fighting thrust in the parish to rein in criminal elements, especially gang members.
Gary McKenzie, Superintendent of police in charge of Westmoreland, told the Western Mirror that Sterling district is among the hot bed areas for gang activities in the parish and Sunday’s killing could be linked to possible gang-on-gang violence.
“Sterling has been a difficult area, where gang-on-gang activities have played out, including rival factions from Top Lincoln and King’s Valley engaging in violent interactions. However, we have to be objective so investigators continue to probe the issue to ascertain the motive,” McKenzie explained.
The Morgan’s Bridge police report that about 3:30 p.m., lawmen heard explosions and went to the Sterling area where Samuels and another man were discovered lying on the ground with gunshot wounds to their upper bodies.
Both men were taken to the Savanna-la- Mar hospital where Samuels was pronounced dead and the other man treated and released.
Superintendent McKenzie also indicated that the Grange Hill area, the scene of a recent mass killing, continues to be one of those hot spots in the parish which remains on the police’s radar as they work to keep rampant criminality and violence under control in the parish.
He discounted claims that migratory criminals could be a factor influencing the high crime rate including murder, arguing that Westmoreland, like St. James, has been a hotbed of activity.
“People will move from place to place but we have not had that of criminals moving from St. James to Westmoreland to influence criminal activities here. What we have experienced is that the nefarious acts have been generated right here from operatives in the parish, not forces external to the parish,” he explained.
He said, however, that while the police have had successes, and have made a number of arrests, some criminal players who have been charged are out on bail so a threat of violence still remains and so the police have to remain vigilant.