Mon | Dec 11, 2023

St James records 18 murders in 19 days

Businessman says parish in urgent need of better crime-fighting strategies

Published:Saturday | January 22, 2022 | 12:06 AMHopeton Bucknor /Gleaner Writer


Thursday afternoon’s murder of a recording artiste made it the sixth homicide within six days across the parish of St James, and a total of 18 murders since the start of the year.

Reports are that about 5 p.m. yesterday, the entertainer was among a group of men in the vicinity of the Copper community in Montpelier, when they were ambushed and fired upon by armed thugs. The entertainer and another man, who was later admitted to hospital, were hit.

On Wednesday afternoon, 26-year-old Shavon Green of Unity Crescent in Farm Heights, St James, was shot dead about 3 o’ clock in his community.

Two other men, 24-year-old Nakeem Erskine of Retirement in Granville, St James; and 23-year-old Mohan Morris, of Lime Tree Lane in Flanker, were also killed by gunmen in separate incidents on Tuesday.

Erskine was attacked while driving his motor car along Trenton Avenue in Coral Gardens at about 7 p.m. on Tuesday, while Morris was also shot at a business establishment in the Flanker area on the same day.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifford Chambers, who is in charge of the Area One police, told The Gleaner that, over the next few days, the parish will be getting assistance from the Specialised Operations Branch in Kingston, as it aims to cauterise the bloodletting.

“The parish of St James is not seeing an increase in crimes, but definitely seeing an increase in murders, and we are expecting to have a joint-intelligence unit over the next couple of days,” Chambers stated.

He noted that many of the murders were stemming from friction – sometimes basic disagreements – among gangs members who turn on each other, which sometimes result in their relatives being targeted. Some of the homicides also have links to lottery scamming, Chambers said.

“This is not the usual murder pattern, and poses a challenge for the police,” he told The Gleaner.

But Lloyd B. Smith, former member of parliament for West Central St James and managing director for the Western Mirror newspaper, disagreed with the recent approach by the Area One police towards curbing crime in the parish.


“Apart from the SOEs and the ZOSOs, it seems to me that the police in St James are clueless as to the approach to take against crime, and they need to go back to the drawing board and practise gathering more intelligence,” Smith told The Gleaner.

“We are now grown used to the constant excuse by the police that the murders are being committed by the scammers and gangsters, and one gets the feeling that the police are saying that it is okay for scammers and gang members to kill each other, but this is not so, because a murder is a murder,” he lamented.

“The police need to be ahead of the criminals, instead of playing catch up, and they need to go back to the days of gathering more intelligence as a tool to fight crime,” Smith insisted.

The veteran businessman believes that a parish which records 18 murders in just 19 days is desperately in need of proper policing, and the police needs to take a step backwards and return to the drawing board and see where they have faltered in their crime-fighting strategies.