Five murders on ‘violence-free day’
Jamaica’s wish for a violence-free day yesterday to mark the 60th anniversary of the birth of reggae icon Bob Marley was dashed with the brutal murders of five men, one of them a police constable, in separate incidents across the island.
The first murders were committed at about 4:00 am in Retreat district, Westmoreland. The victims are 38 year-old labourer Elvis Titus, also called “Bra Brap” and “Presley” of Retreat, and Bosille Watson, known as “Grassman”, a 40 year-old labourer of Strathbogie in the parish.
According to information gathered at the scene, Presley went to the house of Olive Noble, a 38 year-old woman, at about 4:00 am and demanded to see her.
“Presley come a me house and a knock down the door. but me tell him say him fi go way,” Noble told the Observer. “Presley never waan leave until Grassman come back and ketch him.”
According to Noble, Grassman, with whom she has a child, was out fetching water. When he returned and saw Presley, an argument developed during which he used a knife to stab Presley in the neck. Presley reportedly ran several metres away before he collapsed and died.
Grassman, the Observer was told, left the village, but angry residents pursued and captured him. They took him back to the village where he was beaten to death, despite the efforts of cops from the Little London station to prevent him being harmed.
During the moments of savagery, the cops’ service vehicle was severely damaged and the villagers set fire to Noble’s house. Noble, who is the mother of five children, was taken to the Little London Police Station for questioning.
Almost four hours later, 27 year-old Omar McPherson, also called “Apache”, was chopped to death by another man in a domestic dispute at Old Harbour, St Catherine.
The police have held 30 year-old Gideon Halstead who they said turned himself in with the machete used to commit the murder. According to the police, at about 7:55 am, Halstead was at the home of his children’s mother repairing a fence when McPherson, who also has children with the same woman, went to the house.
An argument developed between both men and McPherson was chopped several times.
The fourth murder was committed at approximately 10:10 am in Greenwich Town, Kingston 13.
Police said that Nicholas Hylton, 23, was walking along East Avenue when he was shot several times. No one apparently saw who shot him. Hylton lived at Eighth Street in Greenwich Town.
Just over five hours later, the police constable, Joshua Brissett, was shot dead as he tried to foil a robbery at a shop in Irwin, St James.
Brissett became the first policeman to be murdered by gunmen this year.
The police said that at about 3:20 pm two armed men drove up to the shop in a white Toyota motor car and demanded cash.
When their demand was not met, the men brandished firearms. Brissett, who was at the shop, challenged the gunmen, and during a struggle he was shot in the abdomen.
The gunmen fled the scene in the motorcar.
Brissett, who was assigned to the Westmoreland Police Division, was taken to the Cornwall Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Last night, crime chief for St James, Deputy Superintendent of Police Cleon March, condemned the killing and told the Observer that the police were making “progress” in their investigation of the incident.
“We are pulling out all the available resources that we have right now, and although the investigation is at an early stage we are confident that we will find the persons who are responsible,” DSP March said.
Last night, National Security Minister Dr Peter Phillips said he was saddened by the policeman’s murder and appealed to persons who can assist the police in finding the killers to provide information.
Phillips also expressed condolences to Constable Brissett’s family.
Last year, 11 policemen were murdered in the country.
Observer reporters Dalton Laing and Mark Cummings contributed to this story