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Returned resident's shooting a contract killing, say police

BY PAUL HENRY Co-ordinator -- Crime/Court Desk henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, January 21, 2014    

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THE murder last Friday night of a 75-year-old returned resident in St Elizabeth is believed by the police to be a contract killing.

Robert Campbell was attacked and shot near his two-storey home on Baptist Road in Middle Quarters by a gunman who called out to him before opening fire. Campbell's household helper, who was travelling with him in his van, wasn't injured.

A police source told the Jamaica Observer about the suspicion of a hit, while adding that the 'trigger man' and two other men had been in the area for two days interacting with residents of the quiet district in west St Elizabeth, before committing the crime.

The men were travelling in a Toyota Camry motor car. It was after the incident that residents started coming forward with the information.

According to Deputy Superintendent Lanford Salmon, Campbell's murder could have been prevented had residents been more vigilant and reported the presence of the three strange men in the area.

"The citizens of St Elizabeth need to realise that the landscape has changed," said Campbell, who is head of operations for the parish.

"St Elizabeth people are nice people and welcome [all] in their home, but they should look at strange men in the area as suspects and check them out with the police. We have intelligence that migrant criminals are coming into the parish seeking safe haven. The people are too friendly and need to wise up," he added.

Campbell's murder came a week after his wife died of natural causes in hospital. He leaves behind five grandchildren.

Meanwhile, grieving relatives and residents had nothing but kind words about Campbell, who reportedly returned to live in the island in the late 1990s after spending approximately 50 years working in the United States of America.

He's been described as friendly, kind, helpful and a person who likes to give advice and a listening ear.

His grandson Kemar Campbell told the Observer that these qualities may have led him to stop when flagged down by a stranger around 8:45 on that fateful Friday night.

Speaking of Campbell's kindness, Kemar said that whenever there was a shortage of water in the area, Campbell would allow people to catch the commodity from his tank, free of charge.

Residents said that on occasion when he was leaving his house in the morning and saw children on the road he would pack them into his van and take them to school.

"I always watch it on TV and my heart would sink," Campbell's sister, Gracelin Wilson, said in relation to news reports of murders, "but I never knew it was coming right at our door."

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