Minister reassures Jamaicans after 10 killed in bloody weekend
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday June 27, 2012 – It was a case of scream bloody murder in Jamaica last weekend as 10 people met a violent end in various areas across the country.
Between Friday and Sunday, four persons were killed in St James, two in St Ann and four in August Town, St Andrew, according to reports.
In the wake of the killings, National Security Minister Peter Bunting has assured Jamaicans that the security forces are continuing their relentless efforts to fight crime.
“We have to redouble our efforts going forward, continue what we are doing and be confident that over time, it will work,” Bunting said.
The minister visited the August Town, St Andrew community following the killings, which reportedly resulted from a gun battle between rival gangs.
“I don’t want this weekend’s murders to set back in any way all the effort that has gone into bringing August Town to where it is today,” Bunting said.
“I sympathise and understand the hurt and frustration, but we cannot give up on the peace process. We recognise that it can be a setback, but the residents have to hold on to what they have achieved over the years,” he urged.
A 2008 peace treaty between factions from the five districts in August Town put an end to a violent, bloody era that devastated the community with everyone living in fear. Several subsequent peace initiatives had helped to drastically reduce crime, with murders down to two last year.
“I encourage those who have been working with the PMI (Peace Management Initiative), community development committee and other entities to overcome this and to understand that if they don’t want to return to those days, they have to keep working at it and ensure that it doesn’t gather any momentum. They are not to be concerned with any retaliation, just allow the police to do their investigations, pursue the criminals and bring them to justice,” the security minister said.
Bunting assured that a number of initiatives would be implemented to protect the community from further attacks from the gunmen, as well as increased efforts to bring them to justice.
“I’m just asking the residents to have faith and don’t come off the track that they have been on,” the minister stressed.
Residents of August Town, meanwhile, say they are fearful following the killings.
According to Senior Superintendent Derrick Knight, there were two separate shooting incidents on Saturday, one in the morning and another in the evening. He said one of the incidents could be a result of one of the deceased being a witness in a court case.
Dead are Deveon Harris, 23; André Bennet, 19; Tamica Gordon, 19, and Rohan Simpson, 39.
The month-to-date murder rate compared with last year is reportedly the same. Eleven hundred and twenty-four persons were reportedly killed last year, 89 in the month of June.