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Bullets rain! Anger over New Year's gun salute

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Illegal gun salutes that have become a hallmark at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day proved to be a near-death experience for a few residents in Kingston, Jamaica this holiday season.

The residents, who shared their ordeal on social media, complained that bullets made their way into homes when they rang out at the start of 2018.

The complaints were spurred by one social media user, Jan Voordouw, who said: “A #bullet fired last night (December 31/ January 1) in the air, returned to earth, traversed our roof and hit our bed.” (we were not sleeping as yet)... #Kingston #Jamaica.”

He explained that the bullet made its way through metal-shingled roofing and two layers of plywood.

In response, other users shared similar experiences.

“A bullet went through my awning and hit the wall last night. Missed my father's head by some inches and ricochet and grazed his hand,” said one.

Another said: “A #bullet fell on my roof last night during the 'celebrations'. Found the shell this morning in the yard. Didn't think of taking a picture.”

“Same thing happened to me. I'm still in shock”, another tweeted, adding: “Welcome to Jamaica where even in your so-called 'uptown' residence bullets will find their way into your house.”

The stories continued with this account: “I'm in my house this blessed New Year and as the celebration began and the fireworks blasted, a bullet tore through the roof in my room and fell under my bed. I often hear of freak accidents happening, but I never thought I'd be so close to it, Jamaica has become a lawless nation and pretty much anyone with a gun can do whatever they want with no care for who they might hurt. Is this the Jamaica we're selling to the world? Where people are not safe in their own Houses?”

Many sympathisers have since responded to Voordouw's tweet suggesting that the affected individuals bring the bullets to the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) for testing so that the culprits can be found.

“All legal guns in Jamaica have a ballistic signature, so it'll be easy to find the owner... if it's a legal gun,” the user said.

“Look at that — too many guns loose on the streets — firing of gunshots to ring in the new year should not be encouraged by any party promoters — moreover it's illegal! This place though!” added another user.

Voordouw, who only said his home is located somewhere 'uptown' told OBSERVER ONLINE that he is very happy with the response on Twitter, as “It shows that what we experienced, happens more often in Jamaica and a number of people have experienced damage and some suffer trauma (staying under their bed, not going out around New Year's midnight, etc).”

He noted the two tweets, posted less than 24 hours ago, “became a bit of a twitter storm: till now, the tweets have been seen over 42,000 times, more than 15,000 people "engaged" with it, over 7,000 clicked on the pictures. I received absolutely no defence of gun salutes. Some also suggested that these gun salutes are hurting tourism”.

Just last month, the police issued a gun salute warning, stating that the police will be out in their numbers to address the issue. However, the focus was mainly on the second city of Montego Bay where the New Year in some communities is usually marked by lengthy gun salutes by gangsters carrying illegal weapons.

Communities like the volatile Salt Spring and Glendevon in the city are prime areas for gun salutes — their way of ushering in the New Year.

Many of those who live in such sections of the densely populated city have complained, in secret, about the annual racket that they said often drives fear into them. They also said they cannot lodge formal complaints to the police due to fear of reprisals.