FOUR hostage takers were collared by the police last evening after they held three women captive in an apartment inside the Haining Mews housing development in New Kingston. The women were unharmed.
The St Andrew Central Police were quick on the scene of the hostage scenario after receiving reports that the three women were in distress after the four men, at least one armed with a gun, barged in on them and held them at gunpoint at about 6:30 pm.
They were reinforced by members of the Mobile Reserve Special Squad who are trained for hostage situations. Other police from the Flying Squad and the Organised Crime Investigation Division flooded the streets around the apartment complex and zoned in on the unit in which the hostage takers and their victims were holed up.
The cops acted professionally and did not try to aggravate the situation. No shots were fired during the stand-off as the police chose to negotiate with the criminals. During the negotiations, cops positioned themselves strategically on surrounding streets in order to thwart any attempts by the hostage takers to escape.
However, two of the men tried to escape by jumping a wall of the apartment complex and high-tailed it through another property on nearby Belmont Road, but they were stopped dead in their tracks by alert policemen.
The other two men were held after the cops grew impatient, sawed off a grille to the apartment and arrested them without incident.
All four were handcuffed and carted off to an undisclosed location. An illegal firearm was also taken from one of the men. Before they were carted off, one of the men was overheard telling a police officer that he hailed from 'Rema' -- the name given to the tough inner-city community of Wilton Gardens located in the Kingston West Police Division.
The incident lasted about 90 minutes.
"This was a highly professional display by the policemen and women who worked here tonight," a senior cop on the scene said. "The situation was delicate and innocent lives were at stake. We had to be very calculated in our movements and the decision was taken that force would be only a last option. The good thing is that no one got hurt and four criminals are off the streets."
The incident drew curious stares from residents of several apartment complexes on Belmont Road, some of whom said their community was being plagued by criminals.
"We need to reactivate the neighbourhood watch. We need whistles and we must start being more neighbourly as one house was broken into at 4:00 in the morning, while three men tried to rob a resident about 7:00 one evening," a female resident told the Jamaica Observer.
The police said the men would be questioned and eventually charged.