Bloody Christmas leaves St. James on edge

LBC
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NORWOOD, St James — There was a tense calm last night in Norwood, a gritty inner-city community in St James, following the Christmas Day massacre which left four people, including one woman, dead.

A teenage girl was also shot and injured during the attack.

The deceased have been identified as: 43-year-old Yorken Silvera, an electrician of Columbus Square; 39-year-old mason Leo Mitchell of Columbus Square; 30-year-old Jason Anderson of Nelly Lane, all in Norwood; and 21-year-old Monique Woolery of Llandilo, Westmoreland, and 5th Avenue, Montego Hills, St James.

The five were among a group gathered at a shop on Nelly Lane about 7:30 exchanging Christmas greetings, but the joy of Christmas turned deadly when men travelling in a motor car drove up, pulled guns and started firing, sending some scampering.

When the shooting died down, five people, including Woolery, who had just alighted from a taxi, were found suffering from gunshot wounds. They were taken to the hospital where Woolery, Anderson, Mitchell, and Silvera were pronounced dead, while the teen was treated and released.

According to an highly placed police source, the target of the attack managed to escape unhurt, as he fled the scene on the approach of the attackers.

“All the individuals that have been killed could be seen as innocent victims,” said Dr Horace Chang, Member of Parliament for St James North Western.

Dr Chang, who visited the community shortly after the shooting, bemoaned that despite the increased presence of the security forces in the parish, the bloodletting continues.

The Christmas Day massacre pushed the murder tally in St James to 266 for 2016, compared to 212 for the same period last year.

“[Crime] in Montego Bay has really gone beyond any level of reason, and the normal traditional activities by the security forces are obviously not working. We clearly have to find new ways to deal with this and maybe new legislation,” said Dr Chang, a Cabinet minister.

“The Government is deeply concerned and we have to examine the situation again very carefully, because this kind of criminal activity that we are experiencing cannot be allowed to continue and will not be allowed to continue. So we have to find the appropriate mechanism, the appropriate approach to restore a sense of order in this town,” said Dr Chang.

Residents were tight-lipped when asked to comment on the incident yesterday.

However, one man who mustered up enough courage to speak to members of the media claimed that gunshots rang out for about five minutes.

“Over 100 rounds fire in the space of five minutes. Five minutes of gunshot! In bed me deh a watch the news and me hear the shot dem and just run out. And a dat happen,” said the man, who identified himself only as Scrappy.

“The whole community devastated well bad. We don’t know how we are going to cope,” he continued.

The Christmas Day incident in Norwood was among 17 reported by the police across the island between Friday and yesterday.

Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, head of the police’s Corporate Communication Unit, said there was another unrelated murder in St James on the Christmas weekend. She said yesterday that other murders were spread out across St Thomas, St Elizabeth, and St Catherine.

Speaking to the St James incidents, which accounted for the majority of murders in one parish, she said word from the commanding officer on the ground is that they appeared to be gang-related. “Based on where investigation is leading them (the police), it was gang-related to some extent. There was one individual that they suspect was the target of the attack and as a result they fired and injured all five persons.”

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