“The other three persons, including the lone female, are believed to have been killed during the course of the gun battle,” the Police High Command said in a press release.
It described the shooting as a “running and intense gun battle in the Kingston Western area (Charles Street, Chestnut Lane, Regent Street, Bond Street) involving the police and criminals”. Two other persons, who were also injured in the gunfight, were taken to hospital for treatment. They were said to be stable. A late afternoon release from the Police High Command said “no positive identifications have been made as yet”, and promised more information on the incident. However, up to press time last night the identities of the dead were still not released.
According to the Police High Command, four weapons — an AK-47 assault rifle, one .357 calibre revolver, a .22 pistol, and a 9-mm pistol were seized following the gun battle, which involved dozens of heavily armed lawmen.
The incident has been reported to the Bureau of Special Investigations as well as the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), the body that investigates police shootings.
The police, in the meantime, maintained a strong presence in West Kingston and surrounding areas last night as they moved to return calm to that section of the city, especially in light of condemnation from residents of the tough downtown Kingston communities.
When news spread that six persons, including a teenage girl were pronounced dead at the nearby Kingston Public Hospital, the angry residents hurled insults at the police.
“Even if you go there fi look fi someone, you mean oonu nuh have a heart dat oonu nuh business who else deh around?” shouted one angry woman.
For the most part the residents were tight-lipped as to what happened leading up to the gunfight. However, the arrival of denim-clad police reinforcements only served to further fuel their anger.
Policemen raced up Charles Street, causing some people in the crowd to scamper in fear, while a group of INDECOM investigators got into their car and beat a hasty retreat.
One policeman was hit by a car being driven by a female motorist who, apparently frightened by what was happening, failed to notice the cop running across the street.
The policeman fell onto the bonnet of the car, but got up quickly and pointed his rifle at the terrified motorist and her male passenger. Satisfied that they posed no threat, he continued on his mission.
“Bwoy, is over 40 years me live a West Kingston and it nah go better, so we just have to live with it,” said a resident.
Mothers, aware of how tense the area had become, hurried to collect their children from nearby schools.
Yesterday’s gunfight revived memories of the attack on members of the security forces in May 2010 when armed men loyal to then Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke burnt the Hannah Town Police Station and attacked the Darling Street and Denham Town police stations, all in West Kingston. Two policemen were also ambushed and killed along Mountain View Avenue in a series of unprovoked attacks on the police. A day later, soldiers and police forced their way into a heavily barricaded Tivoli Gardens to arrest Coke, who was wanted by the United States Government.
However, Coke escaped during the bruising gun battles which ran for three days and resulted in more than 70 people, including two policemen and a soldier, being killed.
Coke eluded the police for one month before being held in a police roadblock along the Mandela Highway in St Catherine. He has since been extradited to the United States where he has been convicted for racketeering and is now awaiting sentencing.