PUBLIC anger continued to smoulder in St Elizabeth yesterday at the shooting deaths of four men by the police in the community of New Town, just outside the parish capital Black River mid-afternoon Friday.
The residents are alleging that the men were killed in cold blood and that the police fired indiscriminately during the incident which happened between 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm when students were on their way home from school.
"Shots were being fired wildly and anybody could have been hit," said Councillor Mordant Mitchell (PNP, Black River Division). People in the community, he said, were traumatised.
Yesterday, police identified the four men as Kenrick Bennett of Parottee, St Elizabeth; Rohan Barrett of Tivoli Gardens, Kingston; Carlington Wallace; and Turine Wallace of New Town.
Police said that two 9mm pistols and seven rounds of ammunition were seized at the scene.
At least two of the dead were said to be brothers from the community.
"Dem a nuh wrongdoer," a young woman who claimed to know the four men told the Jamaica Observer on Friday.
But the police believe that Bennett, Barrett, and the other two men were involved in the guns for drugs trade with Haiti.
In a release from the Constabulary Communication Network (CCN) yesterday, Bennett o/c 'Guns', was said to have been among a group of men detained by Cuban law enforcers on July 5, 2007.
They were held in Cuban waters with seven 9mm pistols, three revolvers and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition. The men were said to have been returning from Haiti where they had gone to trade 2,000 lbs of marijuana for weapons and ammunition.
Bennett and the other men were subsequently returned to Jamaica where they were all charged with conspiracy to transport firearms to Jamaica and conspiracy to export marijuana.
The case was subsequently adjourned as the main prosecution witness could not be found to give statements.
Friday's killing — the details of which have not yet been furnished by the CCN — has since been reported to the Independent Commission of Investigations.
Yesterday, Councillor Mitchell said in his experience "nothing like that has ever happened in Black River".
The people, he said, are alleging that "there was no level of mercy" shown by the police. According to Mitchell, the people feel that whatever may have happened the police basically chased the men and killed them.