BY GARFIELD MYERS Editor-at-Large South/Central Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — The community of Malvern in South East St Elizabeth was in shock late yesterday after a man said to be of unsound mind disarmed a female district constable in the police station, shot her and was then shot dead.
Last night, the district constable, named as Nadine Mills, was said to be in stable condition in hospital nursing gunshot wounds to the hip and side. She was rushed to hospital by former West Indies fast bowler Councillor Daren Powell (PNP, Malvern Division) who was just metres away in the town square when the incident occurred.
At press time police were yet to confirm the name of the dead man. Residents of Malvern identified him only as 'Chubby'. They described him as a mentally ill man who had frequented the streets of Malvern for years. They said that before now he has only been known for his love of dancing.
The incident, which is said to have occurred about 3:50 pm, overshadowed the murder of a 47-year-old woman farmer 15 hours earlier in Potsdam, just four miles away from the Malvern town centre.
Police say that about midnight Friday, the woman, named as Sonia Martin, was asleep in her children's room when she was attacked and chopped to death.
Police are searching for her common-law husband, Howard Williams, with whom she is said to have had a protracted dispute.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Derrick Cochrane, who has responsibility for St Elizabeth, Manchester and Clarendon (Area 3), said Martin's murder was yet more evidence of the need for communities to play a more proactive role in dispute resolution.
"When disputes like this develop, community members must actively seek to ensure the matter is resolved peacefully," he said. Noting that gangs and domestic violence were the major causes of homicides, Cochrane said the police had also been mandated to treat reports of domestic disputes as a "matter of priority".
In the later incident yesterday afternoon, police say the district constable was on duty in the guard room of the newly erected police station building — which was only officially opened last week — when her assailant entered.
He is said to have hit her in the face and when she fell backwards, disarmed her and then shot her twice. A policeman chased the man and shot him during a confrontation. The firearm was recovered.
Citizens, at the several shops and bars in the square, say they first heard the district constable scream, heard two shots, and then saw 'Chubby' walking out of the station with a gun in his hand. He is said to have fired another shot in the air.
One man, Elfin Morris, told the Jamaica Observer he saw the mentally ill man "wrestling" with Mills before he heard two shots. He then saw 'Chubby' exiting the station with the gun.
"I say to him 'drop di gun', but him jus' bus a shot in the air," Morris said.
Citizens, including Powell, rushed to the assistance of the district constable upon realising what had happened. "I heard the shots and rushed to the station to see her lying inside... and I got her to Black River (hospital) as soon as possible," Powell said.
The former West Indies cricketer said he had been assured by hospital staff that Mills was not in danger.
But Powell expressed concern about the state of security at the station, arguing that it seemed to be undermanned.
Member of Parliament Richard Parchment said he had been told that police personnel may have been drawn away because of investigations into the earlier murder at Potsdam.
But Parchment worried that the State needed to take "greater responsibility for mentally challenged people".
Some Malvern residents said they had never known 'Chubby' to be involved in violence. "What I can tell you about him is that him is a dancer, anywhere the music is, him come an' dance till it stop," one man told the Sunday Observer, as others nodded in agreement.