Tue | Jun 6, 2023

Gunmen threaten fragile peace in Maxfield Avenue despite treaty

Published:Thursday | March 2, 2023 | 1:19 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Crime scene investigators comb a section of Maxfield Avenue in St Andrew after drive-by shooting on Tuesday. The male victim’s wounds were not considered life-threatening.
Crime scene investigators comb a section of Maxfield Avenue in St Andrew after drive-by shooting on Tuesday. The male victim’s wounds were not considered life-threatening.

The police in the Kingston West and St Andrew South divisions are monitoring an upsurge in violence along Maxfield Avenue and in surrounding communities that border the troublesome divisions, which recorded 33 murders combined at the end of...

The police in the Kingston West and St Andrew South divisions are monitoring an upsurge in violence along Maxfield Avenue and in surrounding communities that border the troublesome divisions, which recorded 33 murders combined at the end of February.

For the corresponding period in 2022, the divisions had a combined 37 murders.

From the signing of peace agreements between rival gangs on Sunlight Street last week to cordon-and-search and yard-to-yard operations on Tuesday, the security forces have stepped up activities to mitigate against the 29 per cent year-on-year increase in murders for Kingston West.

St Andrew South, on the other hand, has recorded a 49 per cent decline in homicides.

That, however, is no solace, according to at least one senior cop assigned to the St Andrew South division, who says the gunmen are still carrying out attacks.

There was a drive-by shooting incident on Tuesday minutes after the security cordon-and-search exercise had ended as gunmen opened fire on a male target, who was standing at the corner of Whitfield and Maxfield avenues.

The victim was treated at hospital. His injuries are not considered life-threatening.

Crime scene investigators collected 16 spent casings from the scene.

The Gleaner was told that a pre-dawn security blanket of the communities on Wednesday was aimed at finding guns and perpetrators of violence.

Thirty residents were reportedly picked up and taken in to custody.

“A nighttime, the place empty after certain hours because the man dem a fire shot from rooftop and all a use church yard fi get close to dem target. A two nights or early morning recently police come and collect spent shell, a brown bag full,” one resident of the area told The Gleaner on Wednesday.

Several cars and homes were reportedly damaged during those shooting incidents.

According to the latest Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) serious crime statistics, which cover January 1 to February 28, 2023, shootings in both the Kingston Western and St Andrew South police divisions are down 13 and 27 per cent, respectively.

Senior Superintendent of Police Michael Phipps, commander for Kingston West, said that the first murder and shooting for 2023 took place on Sunlight Street.

An elderly man, 74-year-old Keith Davis, died in that incident, and sources close to the investigation surmise that the attackers lost a high-powered weapon, which is still a bone of contention in the space.

“Dem say peace [treaty] sign, but as a ghetto youth, you can’t trust dem thing deh. First of all, di man dem weh a do things never go the meeting. Any time you hear bout peace call, just wait fi di sudden destruction. Certain people still can’t go certain place and lef dem head-back careless,” a resident of Sunlight Street said.

Members of the Church of God of Prophecy took to Maxfield Avenue on Wednesday in praise and worship as they, too, decried the violence and bloodletting.

The national murder tally is now at 188, a 24 per cent decline when compared to the 248 seen in 2022.

The JCF says that other major areas of crime, such as robberies, break-ins, and rape, have also declined.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com