Anger in Mountain View
A search for criminals who reportedly fled St Catherine to evade the security forces, following the declaration last week of a state of public emergency (SOE) in that parish, led to one man being shot and killed by the police at 72 Mountain View Avenue in Kingston on Monday, sparking outrage among residents.
According to the residents, who blocked roads in protest, the killing occurred sometime after 5:00 am, and they insisted that the deceased, who is known to them as Scrubs, was not a criminal and was not wanted by the police. The residents described him as a man who was was “trying find his way through life”.
According to the police, members of a joint Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) team went in search of criminals believed to be on the run from St Catherine when they were reportedly challenged, and during a gunfight Scrubs was shot.
“Based on intelligence we understand that men were displaced from the St Catherine area due to the SOE. The men opposed the police when trying to apprehend them. One man was shot and injured. He was taken to the Kingston Public Hospital where he was pronounced dead. As we speak, detectives are on the scene and we are also waiting for Indecom [ Independent Commission of Investigations] to commence their investigation,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Sheldon Gordon.
“One JDF member was shot and injured during the incident. His condition is serious but not critical. The residents blocked the roads in protest over what happened. But I want to say that for criminals there will be no safe haven. If they flee, we will catch them anywhere they go, even out at sea. We are determined to catch them and bring back law and order. We want this place to be a place where people can live, work, raise families, and do business,” Gordon said before revealing that no guns were seized following the incident.
Even with soldiers walking around with rifles in hand and masks on their faces, residents did not hold back their frustration when speaking to the media.
The residents claimed that they could not think of one valid reason why Scrubs was shot and killed as he allegedly was the one who opened the door to allow the police and soldiers to enter his house. They said it was sad that he lost his house to fire some time ago and now he has been killed at the house to which he relocated.
“The youth lives here. He was sleeping and they went and knocked on the door. The youth opened the door and they took him out and told him to pull another door. He told them he wasn’t going to pull the door because he doesn’t live in there and they just executed him,” one resident alleged.
Another resident, a woman, was puzzled as to why the security forces chose to rough up the people after being allowed free entry into their homes.
“If people are cooperating with you, why rough up the people. After 5:00 am they said they are looking for wanted men, and dem gwaan wid dem self and all rough up my stepson. The man that they killed doesn’t match any of the description for the people they were looking for. A long time this a gwaan. A 1999 dem kill my brother. Their excuse is always that they see a man run and that caused them to shoot.
“It has to stop. It cannot continue. I have two sons who excel in high school. It could have been one of my sons this morning. They would have to kill me too. I can imagine what she [mother of Scrubs] is going through right now because I watched my mother deteriorate when they killed my brother. All they said was that somebody run. All now my mother can’t gain back her weight after they killed her son,” the woman said.
One elderly woman told the Jamaica Observer that she was terrified by the actions of the joint police/military team on Monday. The elderly woman claimed that at one point a member of the security forces pointed a gun at her head.
A male resident, at the same time, said that there has been peace in Mountain View for a good while now, but the incident on Monday could spoil things for them.
He was perturbed by some of the things he said members of the security forces uttered during the operation.
“The policeman was trying to pop off my bag from around my neck, and him tell mi seh based on Section 20 of some document he can take away our rights by putting a gunshot to our head,” he claimed.
He added, “We put up with a lot of crap from the security forces. Scrubs was no wanted man. What should we do? Should we still laugh up with police after this?”