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Police take aim at Rat Bat gang

Say internal feud causing tension in St Andrew South Police Division

Friday, January 17, 2014    

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THE St Andrew South Police have launched a counter offensive aimed at disrupting the activities of the deadly Rat Bat gang, whose members are involved in an internal gang feud, resulting in two murders and the shooting and injury of one man on Sunday.

Police report that minutes to 9:00 am, 31-year-old Kirk Nelson of St Joseph Road was in the company of another man at nearby Crescent Road when they were attacked and shot. Both men were taken to hospital where Nelson died and the other man was admitted.

One man, who was accused of being involved in the armed attack, was mobbed and killed metres away from the spot where the attack occurred.

The gang's main stomping ground is in the St Joseph's and Crescent roads communities, along with an area close to Greenwich Town known as 'Boat Island'.

The areas have been tense since members of the gang turned on each other in a bid to gain leadership of the criminal outfit.

According to Assistant Superintendent Omar Morris, the police have since implemented measures that have quelled the criminal activities of the feared gang.

"An action plan has been activated to deal with the upsurge of violence in that area. The police are maintaining a presence with a view to maintain calm and public safety," Morris told the Jamaica Observer.

On Tuesday, the police launched an operation in the affected communities and painted 11 murals depicting the images of former gang members.

"We painted out the murals of the major violence contributors of the past," he said.

One of the murals that were painted out was dedicated to Paul 'Machine Man' Sterling, who was gunned down by police along Collie Smith Drive in Arnett Gardens in October 2008.

Police said they received information that Sterling was in possession of a firearm minutes after he reported to them as a condition of bail.

A .45 semi-automatic pistol was recovered by the police, who alleged that Sterling pulled a gun on them when they accosted him.

Sterling, whose death sparked fiery demonstrations, was reputed to be the leader of the gang at the time and was suspected of involvement in murder, shootings and extortion, the police reported.

The mural dedicated to Sterling was painted on a wall that was protected by a large grille. Morris said in addition to defacing the murals the police had also been engaging the residents.

"We have had dialogue with citizens informing them that the police action was to lift some of the mental oppression and past memories of violence," he said.

"We are using a multi-dimensional approach including meeting with citizens which is part of the JCF proactive violence interruption strategy in which members of the clergy, police officers, the Criminal Investigation Branch, the Chaplaincy unit of the Constabulary and other prominent citizens meet with the community and family members and other affected persons to interrupt the cycle of reprisals and revenge," Morris said.

The police have also dispatched foot and mobile patrols and have been carrying out snap raids in the domains of the gang..

Four murders have been recorded in the St Andrew South Police Division since the start of the year, while the police have seized one firearm and seven rounds of ammunition. The police said they have also seen a decrease in sexual offences and property crimes in the division.

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