GRANTS Pen residents erupted in anger yesterday after police killed three men on nearby Arcadia Drive in St Andrew, bringing the number of fatal shootings in the 13 days since the start of the year to 18.
Two of the men, who residents identified as Eucliffe Dyer, 24, otherwise called 'Garper', and his friend 'Ratty', lived in Grants Pen. The other man, who residents said was Ratty's "long-time" friend Matthew Lee, was not from the area.
Dozens of residents — after viewing the Mitsubishi motor car in which the three were travelling before they were shot — returned to their community and used debris to block a section of Grants Pen Avenue.
They didn't mince words in their criticism of police officers who turned up to clear the roadblock.
"Cold-blooded dem kill di three yout dem. Mi feel it, God know me feel it," cried Keisha, one of the protesters.
"Last night dem (police) come roun a di dance and talk over the mic that dem going to kill 'Garper'. Mi can't believe that dem really kill him," she claimed, making reference to an event that took place Friday night in a section of the community called 'Wacko Pen'.
Keisha claimed the statement was made by a well-known policeman with a fearsome reputation, who other residents claimed is hostile in his dealings with them whenever he visits the community.
According to the residents, Dyer, who was recently released on bail in relation to crimes committed in the community, had asked Lee for a ride to the Constant Spring Police Station where he was required to report each day as part of the conditions of his bail. Lee agreed to take him, and the three left. It was while they were returning from the station that the shooting occurred.
Lee, who was of a Smokey Vale address, also in St Andrew, was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time, residents said.
"Is him mi really sorry for. Him just get caught up in the whole ting," a woman who identified herself as Yvonne said, her eyes watering.
An alleged eyewitness claimed the policemen who carried out the shootings wore masks, and that Dyer was killed with his station log book in his back pocket.
Yesterday, Lee's sister, Simone Grant, in a telephone call to the Jamaica Observer sought to dispel police reports that her brother was a gunman.
"The family is devastated by his death, but what is even more devastating is the report that Matthew was a gunman. He wasn't," cried the woman, adding that the ill-fated vehicle was registered in her name.
"Matthew was an avid golf player from age 12 and one of the guys he was travelling with [Ratty] was his caddy. Since then, that's over 12 years now, they developed a friendship and he (Lee) would always go down there [Grants Pen] to check him," she said. "The family even met him [Ratty] when we found out that Matthew was going down there because we wanted to know where he was."
"If they were wanted men, why would they go to the police station armed?" said Grant, breaking into tears.
After the incident, investigators from the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) scoured the abandoned vehicle, which had been left with its doors open, for clues. The bodies were taken to the Kingston Public Hospital, a policeman securing the area said, adding that the vehicle had no bullet holes on it, and that blood was seen on the sidewalk beside it.
Late yesterday afternoon, a report from the Constabulary Communications Network (CCN), the police information arm, confirmed the incident and noted that two firearms — a 9mm pistol and a Mack-10 submachine gun — were taken from the scene.
The report realised residents' fears that the police would officially say that the killings were the result of a shootout. Relatives and neighbours, meanwhile, pondered the significance of the killings.
One of them, who was propped against a fence watching as the police cleared the blocked roadway, said cryptically: "He (Dyer) had a history with the police dating back about four to five years ago, nuff issues. Di man dem glorify too much killings," he mused. "But in war nobody wins, not even the man who kill the most people win. That's why I don't talk 'bout war."
A man, who demanded to have audience with the INDECOM investigators, said: "You can't feel good about these things. You can't glorify death because it is a road that everybody is going to go."
In other incidents, police shot dead two men on Port Henderson Road and another in Bartons, both in St Catherine, minutes apart on Friday night. INDECOM is investigating those as well.