A midnight shooting rampage in Harbour Heights, St Andrew, has left three men dead after gunmen dressed in camouflage and balaclava masks sprayed bullets on scores of residents who had gathered for a party in the community, early yesterday morning.
Word at the scene when news team visited the community at daybreak, was that an unborn child was also dead after the mother, six months pregnant, lunged 10 feet from a two-storey building in order to save her life.
The police, however, reported that only two people were confirmed dead. A news release from the Corporate Communication Unit (CCU) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) stated that investigators from the Major Investigation Division (MID) were leading an investigation into the incident which it said left two people dead and six nursing gunshot wounds.
The residents, the CCU said, were of a Talmania Avenue, Bayshore Park addresses.
“Reports are that about 12:15 am, all eight persons were patrons at a party when masked men entered and opened gunfire at the crowd. When the shooting subsided the eight patrons were found with gunshot wounds. The police were summoned and they were taken to hospital, where two men were pronounced dead and the others treated,” the news release stated.
The dead men are yet to be identified.
Residents who spoke with the news team recounted the gruesome incident, in which people had to be jumping from the roof of a two-storey house where the party was being held. They said that three adults and an unborn baby had died.
Tight-lipped and still in shock, residents of the hillside community, who were in attendance at the party and who lived to tell the tale, described the shooting as something they had never seen before in the community.
“Wi know say the place tense, but we never expect wah happen last night. Everybody from last night have a mark, some cut or scrape pon them. All my foot sprain,” said a bartender who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Is pon the roof wi deh and wi never have nowhere else fi guh but fi jump off a the roof. To how mi fraid, mi nuh think mi can make night catch mi in the bar after this,” she added.
The woman, who is the sister of the mother who lost her baby, explained that she saw a group of men dressed in camouflage exiting a vehicle and then shooting at the crowd of partygoers.
“Mi think them a soldier, but when mi see them have on mask, mi realise say them a nuh soldier,” said the woman.
Other residents who spoke with the news team were still in shock, and counting their blessings for having lived through a near-death encounter.
“At a time like this, after what happen last night, I have to be joyful. When mi hear the shot them, mi make up mi mind and jump off a the roof over the precipice. When the shooting start, we have only two choice, pass the gunman them, or jump over the precipice,” said one male resident.
Another resident standing in ear shot added: “The man them wreck the community last night. A di first mi see this! Poor old man Juicy get gun shot. A whole community a people gone a Public (Kingston Public Hospital). Bayshore people full up dung a Public right now. Who nuh get bruk hand, get bruk foot,” said the resident.
The owner of a bar, where residents had gathered to recount their experience, told the media that he would be closing his establishment for the day. He too had a narrow escape.
“I saw weapons firing. Tears drop out a mi eye this morning when mi see di yout blood pon di grung. A 30 years mi live a Harbour View and mi never see anything like this yet. Within three minutes, no less than 50 rounds fire. A rifle mi see the man them have,” said the resident.
Others who had gathered echoed sentiments that the incident was unlike anything they had ever lived through.
“Mi live here from mi a 11-year-old and is the first mi a see this happen. The place need Jesus right now,” said a female resident.
“Mi deh here before Gilbert blow, and a di first mi have fi run fi mi life. The man them come out like real soldier last night, dress up in a real camouflage and balaclava mask. When mi jump off a di roof, about 10 people jump on top a mi last night,” another chimed in.
Another male resident told the Sunday Observer that he knew one of the men who died to be a good father.
“The man weh dead right out there so, is him and him babymother mi see stand up out there last night. She see when her babyfather get shot. From this morning, the baby a ask fi him father. A bare innocent man dead last night,” he said.
One woman, who asked not be named, told the Sunday Observer that the shooting was in connection with the killing of a 16-year-old Kingston Technical High School student from another section of the community last Sunday.
“It’s some feud going on. It’s coming from man and man thing, until this 16-year-old lost his life the other day. I can’t say much on that. But as to what took place last night, it is a reprisal,” said the woman who has lived in the community for several years.
She explained that residents are now fearful, since word on the street is that relatives of the slain teen are out to kill scores more to avenge his death.
“From what I hear, them say them want 20 man for his death. “If we have to come out and go to work every day, who are they going to target? Nuh we who them see pon di street?” opined the woman, who said she was also counting her blessings since she was supposed to be at the party.
“It was a little drink out, and I was invited. I got even a letter. But I didn’t I go. We are living in fear right now. And a lot of what happened last night, happened to innocent people. And if this is true, the amount of people they want to kill, then is mostly innocent people going to get caught up in it,” said the woman.
“Many of the over 20 persons that got injured, people who escaped, running for their lives, some get bruk foot, bruk hand, or shot up. I don’t know what is going on. It is strange because I have been living here for a very long time and it’s the first I am seeing something like this.
“And things like these affect the community business-wise because you have the little shop people them and most shops are locked this morning because persons are scared,” she added.
Councillor for the Harbour View division of the Kingston & St Andrew Municipal Corporation, Horace Oliver Clue, also told the media that the shooting is suspected to be in connection with the killing of the teenager.
“We end up with some individuals who are not from the community, and matters got out of hand last night. I can safely say that the shooting was a reprisal for the young man who was killed last Sunday. Three persons lost their lives. And a mother who was six months pregnant lost her baby. She had to jump from a roof, broke her foot and that is how she lost the baby.”
Clue said discussions are now underway to have a police presence in the community, especially with a funeral service for a senior citizen to held in the community tomorrow.
“Her set up will be tonight and the funeral is tomorrow, and I know the community was looking forward to it. But everybody right now is in shock. We didn’t expect this. I know there are some persons inside the community with some differences, and we have been having discussions with community leaders and the police to ensure that we have peace in the community.”
“We will be having the funeral tomorrow and we are having discussions with the police to ensure that we have proper security for the farewell ceremony. I want to implore the police to make their presence felt in the community,” said Clue.