Sandals and slippers left at theparty venue give an indicationof the chaos that ensued inSunday night's attack bygunmen. (Photo: Anthony Lewis)
Killers mapped out party venue before slaying promoters

SPRING GARDENS, Westmoreland — The criminals who shot dead two people and wounded six others at an illegal party in Spring Gardens, Westmoreland, Sunday night, had conducted a reconnaissance of the venue hours before, a survivor of the bloody attack told the Jamaica Observer.

According to the survivor, the gunmen had surveyed the venue early in the evening and left. They returned later, ordered a cigarette and Magnum, after which they turned their guns on Sherece Murray, hitting her in the upper body, before taking a bag with cash garnered from the illegal event.

They then shot her spouse, 31-year-old Marshall Gayle, took a bag of cash from his body as well, while patrons, some of whom were also shot, ran out of their slippers and sandals.

On Monday the Westmoreland police said that, while the killers had taken the bags with money, several leads, including lottery scamming, are being examined as the motive for the murder of the couple, which was committed about 8:45 pm.

“We are not concluding at this point that the robbery is the motive. What we are saying is that there are several avenues that we are pursuing in terms of investigations to include some connection to illicit lottery scamming,” a police source told the Observer.

Member of Parliament for Westmoreland Western Morland Wilson, who visited the family of the deceased on Monday, is asking residents to share whatever they know with the police.

Wilson said Spring Gardens is a quiet, peaceful community that is currently in transition from farming, including the growing of sugar cane, to the hosting of entertainment events.

“A lot of persons may have ventured into entertainment as a means of survival. What I gathered had happened is that these individuals [Gayle and Murray] were having an event as an income-generating activity,” stated Wilson.

He reiterated his call for the implementation of a state of public emergency in the parish, adding that, while the current zone of special operation (ZOSO) that was implemented in Savanna-la-Mar South is working, some criminals may have migrated from that area.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness had declared the ZOSO for the areas of “Russia”, Dalling Street, and Dexter Street on January 16 in response to increasing acts of violence that have earned Westmoreland the dubious distinction of being one of the police divisions with the highest murder figures last year.

“What is happening here is not good, because if you notice, they have controlled the crime situation in Savanna-la-Mar, but now it is Westmoreland and Whitehouse that have it. So it is a situation that I think that the police need to get a hold of,” stated Wilson.

He argued that several rural communities are seen as 'soft targets' by criminals who believe that there are not many security guards in these areas to assist with protection.

Meanwhile, a police officer in the parish, who asked not to be named as he was not cleared to speak with the press, is pleading with promoters of illegal entertainment events and patrons to desist from engaging in extreme measures to elude the police.

“We just want the unruly behaviour to cease, and for persons to understand that they are jeopardising themselves. There is a high demand for the service of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, especially in Westmoreland, and we cannot be stretched trying to stop persons from having these illegal events,” the cop said, adding that, apart from the breaking of COVID-19 rules, people are endangering themselves when the police are not aware of such activities.

To prove his point he said that last Friday the police had to be moving from one area to another to warn people attending illegal parties.

Marshall Gayle was shotdead at the illegal party.
herece Murray, one of thevictims from Sunday night'sshooting at an illegal party inWestmoreland.
Senior Superintendent Robert Gordon (left), who is in charge of the WestmorelandPolice Division, and Deputy Superintendent Adrian Hamilton (third left), officerin charge of operations, talk Monday with family members of the people slain inWestmoreland Sunday night. (Photo: Anthony Lewis)
BY ANTHONY LEWIS Observer writer editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

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