Rockfort on edge
RESIDENTS of the often crime-pocked community of Rockfort in eastern Kingston are again on edge following a triple murder in the area on Thursday night. Four people were also injured in the shooting.
The community endured a bloody period between the middle of 2012 until late last year as gangsters from sections of the community known as Oliver Road and Base1 engaged in a deadly dispute.
But since a reported peace treaty in 2022 Rockfort has been relatively crime-free.
That changed on Thursday night during a party where scantily-clad dancers were entertaining patrons on Rusden Road in the community.
Deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Phillip Kendrick Smith, who is in charge of operations in the Kingston Eastern Police Division, late Friday reported that just after 11:10 Thursday night rival gangsters engaged in a shooting incident at that party.
It is believed that the shooting stemmed from a similar incident last year.
One of the men killed Thursday night, 22-year-old Warren Benjamin, was allegedly involved in the 2022 shooting, which left one man nursing gunshot wounds.
The second victim in Thursday night’s attacks was identified as 19-year-old construction worker, Raheem Walters, while the third man was unidentified up to press time.
According to the police, the unidentified man is about 178 centimetres long with an owl tattoo on his throat and a lion on his left forearm.
On Friday, residents told the Jamaica Observer that the attack at the party could lead to chaos in the community.
“Some people down the road were gambling while the topless party was going on. Things were quite fine in the community, but now, things are tense,” said one female resident as she expressed fear of possible reprisals.
Another woman said she was in disbelief, as nobody could have foreseen what took place.
“I don’t really appreciate the fact that this occurred when there was enjoyment in the community and peace was coming back and everything. This just shake up the whole place.
“Right here used to have a lot of wars and a lot of people from outside wouldn’t want to come up here, but things were beginning to change. My friend said he wanted to come to the party Thursday, but when he got here, he saw police and crime scene. I hope this doesn’t escalate. People know what the war brings. It only brings mourning. When things like this happen, the people who died or got shot have loved ones too and they may want to retaliate,” said the worried woman.
Another woman, who lives close to where the murders occurred, said she had just gone to her bed after watching the topless dancers.
“I went inside and started to rest. I was in my sleep when I heard the gunfire,” said the woman as she claimed that while there is no war in the community there has been a little conflict.
“Party keep right here every Thursday and this shooting will affect things going forward,” she added.
In the meantime, DSP Smith said that the party was an illegal session and appealed to residents of Rockfort and surrounding areas not to stage events without permits.
He warned that whenever illegal events are held, the police cannot guarantee the safety of patrons.
“We had no knowledge [of Thursday’s event] and definitely it would not have been approved by the hierarchy of the Kingston East Division. Based on events that have been occurring in the division, we made a decision that no permits will be granted for parties, especially in Rockfort, Mountain View and Rollington Town.
“We implore people to apply for permits, and if same is granted, we would know that we should police these events to ensure the safety of the patrons. If you go behind our backs, the possibility of people being harmed is very high, based on what is happening. We just ask people to ensure that they comply with the law so we can be better able and equipped to assist them,” said Smith, even while assuring that the police are prepared to work to prevent reprisals in the community.
“In the short term, we have received external support. We have a large contingency of police operating in this specific location. In the medium term, there could be a curfew and we will be carrying out some operations because there are some people we are looking for.
“Some of these people are currently at the hospital. But there are other people who can help us. There is a ‘Prince’, who is the cousin of Warren Benjamin, O/C ‘Wardog’, there is ‘Boombye’, ‘Stickman’ and a ‘Ghost’ who lives up in the Shanty area. We would like to speak with these people to ensure peace is maintained throughout the community,” added Smith.