HOMELESS HORROR

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HOMELESS HORROR

4 killed, 2 battling for life after predawn attacks

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

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THE pain was evident on their faces as members of the homeless community in downtown Kingston gathered early yesterday morning behind crime scene tape which marked where three of their colleagues had been murdered before dawn.

As they mourned, they identified the victims as “Chris”, who begged at the intersection of East and East Queen streets for years, and was known as the homeless man who had a bath at least two times each day; “Soljie”, who was always seen with several “gold” chains around his neck; and “Tallman”, who would be seen with his three barrels of possession on Hanover Street each day.

The homeless were convinced that the three men had been killed by a deportee who lives on the streets of the city. He is alleged to have killed another homeless man in downtown Kingston previously and had been in a mental institution until he returned to the streets some weeks ago.

“[The man] get deported and from him come downtown him walk with two sharp machete. A must him kill them,” declared one resident of the central Kingston community.

In an incident last year an Observer team had seen the alleged deportee begging $50 from a pedestrian. When the man said he had no money the beggar pulled his machete, at which time the man dipped into his pocket and handed him a $100 bill before making a hasty escape.

But, even as residents prepared to form a posse and go in search of the deportee, news came that at least three other homeless men had been attacked in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Suddenly the pain on the faces and in the voices turned to fear as the homeless were aware that the deportee did not drive a motor vehicle and would not have been able to pull off what seemed like coordinated attacks.

With Observer sources reporting that one homeless man had been attacked and killed on the Mother White Bridge on Spanish Town Road in west Kingston, while another had been attacked on Constant Spring Road near Twin Gates Plaza in Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew, and yet another on Derrymore Road also in Half-Way Tree, the would-be vigilantes who were planning to search for the deportee started looking for havens.

“This nuh look good. Mi ago tek weh myself,” said one homeless man as he made his way along East Street, even as the workers from a funeral parlour removed the lifeless body of his friend from the compound of the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court (Civil and Tax Divisions) at the intersection of East and Sutton streets.

It was reported that shortly after 4:00 am passers-by saw a mutilated body on the compound of the courthouse which is behind the Kingston Central Police Divisional Headquarters.

The police were summoned, and while on the scene received reports that the bodies of two other homeless men were metres away on Hanover Street, also with multiple wounds.

As the police processed those scenes, reports surfaced of the attacks on homeless men in three other locations in the Corporate Area.

Head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Corporate Communications Unit Senior Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay confirmed the attacks and told the Jamaica Observer that investigators are now trying to get video footage and any other information as they carry out their probe.

“We have been gathering information as we have no eyewitnesses, but we are probing these incidents,” said Lindsay.

“We had a similar case about three years ago where we saw bricks where dropped on the homeless men. That time our investigation identified a perpetrator who was ruled unfit to plead; now we are continuing our investigations into these incidents,” added Lindsay.

In the meantime, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie yesterday expressed shock at the attacks on the six homeless men.

“We have since learned that they were all chopped by their attacker or attackers. While these are clearly horrific and criminal acts, I am left to wonder if this is the outcome of an outburst of madness.

“It challenges me to do even more for our homeless population. Although we provide a full range of services at the drop-in centres, including overnight accommodation, many of our homeless brothers and sisters use them, but prefer to stay on the streets, thus making them even more vulnerable to organised or random attacks,” said McKenzie.

“Even as the police work to solve these assaults and murders, I am appealing to our homeless people to make greater use of these facilities that are dedicated to them. They are staffed by committed professionals who continue to provide total care for all who visit.

“This incident also revives the daily challenge to us all to be a far gentler society, and to ensure that the vulnerable among us are never seen or treated as expendable,” added McKenzie.


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