Suspects held in Hanover triple killing
Michael Smith, one of three men fatally shot
Extortion suspected

SANTOY, Hanover — Several people have been taken into custody by the police as investigations continue into Wednesday night's triple murder that has left this community blanketed by fear.

The police theorise that the attack, which also left four others injured, may be linked to an extortion racket being run by the 100 Round Gang that operates out of the Green Island section of Hanover.

“It is a continuation of the criminal network where they believe that they can get money from business people and other persons in furtherance of their criminal activity,” head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's communications unit, Senior Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, told the Jamaica Observer.

“They make demands for money to be paid over to them, even though they are not a part of the staff of the companies or establishments. They demand money and they use different ways to include threat, force and intimidation. Persons would pay over money to them because of fear,” she added.

The police on the ground have not said how many people are in custody and they have also not ruled out other possible motives.

“There could be gang, extortion, reprisal and counter reprisal. There are a lot of issues that investigators are looking at and we are not ruling out any at this stage,” said Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Clifford Chambers who is in charge of the Area One Division where five people were killed on Wednesday. Hanover is part of the division.

Chambers anticipates that there will soon be a breakthrough in the triple murder.

“Persons have been picked up. Persons are being profiled. Statements are being recorded but we will wait on the detectives to give us a direction,” he said.

Those taken in were picked up during an ongoing operation by a joint security force team in the parish as lawmen probe the attack that claimed the lives of 44-year-old Omar Mahabee, 55-year-old Michael Smith, and 37-year-old Mark Austin. Mahabee and Smith are from Logwood while Austin is from Orange Bay. Those injured in the attack, some of whom have been hospitalised with serious injuries, range between 28 and 44 years old.

Police report that shortly after 7:00 pm, the men were installing security cameras at a mini mart located at the Logwood/Santoy crossroads when gunmen posing as customers opened fire on people outside.

Smith and Austin died on the spot and their bodies were removed to Doyle's Funeral Home after the crime scene was processed about 12:35 am Thursday. Mahabee was pronounced dead at Noel Holmes Hospital in the parish.

Smith's sister, who asked not to be identified by name, is looking for answers. She is hoping the police will find his killers so she can look them in the face and ask, “Why? What mi brother do? Mi brother nuh do anything.”

Another of Smith's sisters said her brother, who worked at a hotel in Negril, was not one to roam the streets and his death had come as a shock.

“The way him gone, mi never expect it because him is not a man on the streets. Just work to home,” the grieving sibling said, adding that her brother had been good and loving.

ACP Chambers said family members affected will be provided with counselling and the necessary support.

“We are not just looking for criminals in this as we are also seeking to meet the needs of the families who have been affected by the murders,” he said.

The senior officer added that Wednesday's murders had shattered the past few months of peace in a community that often has flare-ups of crime. He is calling on residents to work with the police to apprehend those responsible for the attack which pushed the parish's murder toll to 11, the same as the corresponding period last year.

Omar Mahabee, one of the three men shot to death
D&S mini mart where the shooting took place on Wednesday.
ACP Clifford Chambers (second left) in dialogue with members his team during a visit to the crime scene on Thursday.(Photos: Anthony Lewis)

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