ONE gunman was killed and seven persons, including two policemen and an eight-year-old boy, were shot and injured during an upsurge in gun violence in the Corporate Area and Portland yesterday.
In one incident, four people — among them a policeman and the boy — were shot and injured while a gunman was killed during an alleged shoot-out in the parish capital of Port Antonio.
The dead gunman has been identified as 22-year-old Andrew Gray, also called 'Bubbo', of Hope Bay in the parish.
The boy and the two other civilians shot and injured — an elderly man and woman — were innocent bystanders who got caught in the crossfire between the police and the gunman at about 10:00 am.
The boy was shot in the abdomen and had to undergo surgery, while the woman and the man were listed as stable. The condition of the policeman was also listed as stable.
Yesterday, Deputy Superintendent Wayne Cameron — who heads the Portland Police Division — said that the police were on patrol when they noticed Gray acting "suspiciously" in the vicinity of a service station.
"In conducting a search of him, he pulled a firearm and opened fire at the police. During an exchange of gunfire this man was shot and hit and a .380 pistol taken from him," DSP Cameron alleged.
Last night, the Jamaica Constabulary Force said that the incident had been reported to the Independent Commission of Investigations.
The Portland shootings were the latest in a string of violent incidents that have rocked the eastern parish, more known for its low crime rate.
Only two weeks ago, gunmen invaded a garage and shot its owner twice during a robbery.
The rise in crime has drawn the ire of member of parliament for West Portland Daryl Vaz, who expressed concern that tourism in the parish could take a beating.
"There is a fragile tourism product in Portland, and this crime surge will negatively affect the industry. I am calling on the commissioner of police to put in place a sustainable crime plan to prevent Portland from becoming a haven for criminals for this Christmas season and beyond," Vaz said in a press release.
He also called on residents of Portland to co-operate with the police and report sightings of persons involved in illegal activities. He went on to blame outsiders for the recent upsurge in crime.
Meanwhile, the police in the Corporate Area were busy at almost the same time responding to an attack by gunmen on a woman at the intersection of Moreton Park Terrace and Molynes Road. The woman, who reportedly had just concluded doing business at an establishment, was shot several times as she attempted to enter her vehicle.
Another policeman was also shot and injured after he tried to apprehend gunmen who had held up and robbed a security guard of his firearm. The guard raised an alarm and the gunmen were confronted by the policeman, who was in plainclothes.
An alleged eyewitness said he narrowly escaped injury as bullets whistled past him.
"I was coming up Chelsea Avenue when I see the policeman tell them to stop. But the man dem don't stop, dem shot him in him stomach. After that, two policemen in uniform take on the gunman dem, and bullet start fly. Is a wonder how innocent people don't get shot," the eyewitness said.
Yesterday, the policeman — who is assigned to the Band Division — was listed as being in serious condition.
One of the gunmen was apprehended by the police, but another managed to escape after he held up well-known medical practitioner Dr Jephtah Ford and commandeered his sport utility vehicle.
The burnt-out shell of the vehicle was found behind the New Horizon Adult Remand Centre in West Kingston about two hours later.
"I was travelling with my driver in the vehicle heading along Chelsea Avenue when I heard several explosions," said a shaken Ford.
The doctor said as he continued on the road, he saw and heard people screaming and scampering for cover.
"It was at that time I saw a man running along the roadway with gun in hand and when he reached up to the vehicle he instructed my driver and myself to come out of the vehicle," he told the Jamaica Observer.
The frightened doctor said he complied.
Police investigators told the Observer that it appeared the criminals who dumped the vehicle knew the area well and had torched the vehicle to destroy evidence.
In another incident, police reported that two other persons turned up at the Kingston Public Hospital with gunshot wounds and reported that they were shot in the Cross Roads area.