Anger and pain

Anger and pain

Two cops and two gunmen shot, one fatally, in early morning clash

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 24, 2020

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THE pain on their faces and anger in their voices were evident as a handful of Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) members spoke with the Jamaica Observer yesterday, hours after two of their colleagues were shot by gunmen on Constant Spring Road in St Andrew.

“I hope Jamaica see that these boys are heavily armed and that dem not afraid to take on the police,” said one cop with bloodshot eyes, which he claimed to be from a lack of sleep but that appeared to be from crying.

“Remember them pin down the police team down Tivoli, then the boy ambush the team in Spanish Town and kill three of them, and now today,” added the constable as he pointed to recent incidents where members of the JCF were fired on by criminals.

The worst of the incidents highlighted by the cop occurred on June 12 in Horizon Park, St Catherine, in which Superintendent Leon Clunis, Detective Corporal Dane Biggs and Constable Decardo Hylton were fatally shot by a gunman. Another policeman was also shot and injured in that incident.

Hours later, the alleged shooter was fatally shot by members of a police team in another alleged shoot-out that left two members of the JCF wounded.

But the cops underscored that while the Horizon Park operation was targeted at a suspected criminal, yesterday's shooting on Constant Spring Road was supposed to be a routine stop.

“The thing is, this was not expected to be a dangerous operation. It was a regular patrol team which saw two men in a car after curfew hours, and went to just order them home when the criminals opened fire at the police,” said one member of the JCF on the scene.

“The streets [are] vicious, and every day, even in the slightest incident, we are putting our lives at risk,” added the policeman.

Chairman of the Jamaica Police Federation Sergeant Patrae Rowe echoed the views of his members as he told the Observer that the shooting of the two cops was another indication of how brazen criminals are in Jamaica, and that they are not afraid to attack the police.

Rowe noted that the two constables, who are from the Constant Spring Police Station, responded to the attack in the proper manner.

“We demonstrated superior training, superior experience this morning [yesterday], and because of that our officers left the scene with minor injuries. We cannot say the same for the perpetrators who engaged our police officers,” said Rowe.

“Let me encourage the citizens of Jamaica who are hell-bent on committing crime and engaging in criminal conduct, that the police are better trained [and] have the experience to use the necessary force to dispel any attack against them.

“We also want to encourage law-abiding citizens in Jamaica to speak out against the attacks on the police, and to speak out against attempts by the Parliament or civic groups in this country to curtail the powers of the police, to use INDECOM (Independent Commission of Investigations) as a weapon against the police, and to ensure that our police officers work without undue pressure from any interest group who seek to abuse or take away their rights,” added Rowe.

According to the police's Corporate Communications Unit, about 1:30 yesterday morning, the police were on patrol in the Constant Spring Road area, just below its intersection with Dunrobin Avenue, when they observed a white Honda Civic motor car parked on the road.

The team approached the motor vehicle and attempted to make enquires when the occupants immediately fired on the the policemen, hitting them both before attempting to flee the scene.

The injured officers returned the gunfire and the car subsequently crashed a short distance away. One of the armed men ran from the vehicle, and the driver — who received a gunshot wound — was held.

All three injured men were taken to hospital where the driver, who has since been identified as 23-year-old Ryheem Akeen Lawrence of Temple Hall, St Andrew, died while undergoing treatment.

One of the injured cops was reportedly treated and released, and the other hospitalised with serious but not life-threatening injuries.

One man, who is believed to be one of the shooters, later turned up at hospital with gunshot wounds. He was subsequently taken into custody and placed under police guard.

The name of the second man is being withheld, as he scheduled to face an identification parade. The police are probing reports that the two were involved in a series of robberies before their confrontation with the two cops.


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