WESTERN BUREAU (Jamaica Gleaner) – The ongoing criminal mayhem in Montego Bay, St James, took another wicked twist on Thursday when a five-year-old girl was shot and killed in Glendevon after thugs opened fire on the vehicle in which she was travelling to school with her father and an elder sister.
The dead child has been identified as Christina Salmon of a Rose Heights address. Her father was reportedly shot in the mouth, while her eight-year-old sister suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
The injured man and his surviving daughter were both hospitalised.
The child’s killing came the same day gunmen murdered St Catherine Deacon Michael Dixon. Dixon, who was one of at least 11 people killed over the past 24 hours, was reportedly shot while conducting morning prayers at home in St Catherine.
In another Montego Bay incident on a day marked by protests and sporadic violence, a salesman was also shot and killed.
He was identified as Newton John of a Felicity Road address in Glendevon.
Reports are that some time after 7.30 am, Christina’s father was transporting his daughters to school when he breached a roadblock that was set up by persons protesting Wednesday’s killing of two men in the area by the police.
Shortly after he went through the roadblock, armed thugs turned their guns on his vehicle, firing a barrage of shots, hitting all three occupants. Despite being shot, the injured father maintained control of the vehicle and sped off to the Cornwall Regional Hospital where Christina was pronounced dead.
Within recent times, the child’s father has been a very strong advocate for peace in his home community and was a founding member of the Rose Heights Covenant of Peace, an organisation founded seven months ago with a mandate to rid that community of lawlessness.
Pastor Knollis King, who initiated the formation of the Rose Heights Covenant of Peace after declaring that he had become “sick and tired” of burying young men killed in a gang conflict, said the murder of young Christina was a cruel blow.
“This is a sad blow to us here in Rose Heights, as Christina’s dad is one of the strongest advocates for peace in the community,” King told The Gleaner. “As a community, we fully understand his pain at this time and we will be doing all we can to support the family.”
He added: “He is a young man who adored his little girls and when I spoke to him today, he was totally consumed with grief. He told me he would have preferred if it was he who was killed and his daughter spared.”
To date, St James has recorded 86 homicides since the start of the year.
Reacting to the ongoing violence, Dr Horace Chang, member of parliament for the area, said he would be trying his best in imploring his parliamentary colleagues to treat the situation in the western city with greater urgency.
“I think I have to convince my colleagues to be more aggressive,” Chang said.
“I have had some support, in bringing to bear the kind of extensive social intervention, which will combine the resources of the PMI (Peace Management Initiative), CSJP (Citizen Security and Justice Programme) and the SDC (Social Development Commission) to see if we can cauterise the continued entrance of the younger generation into the system.”
The unrest also resulted in the suspension of classes at the Glendevon Primary and Junior High, Farm Primary and Junior High, as well as Green Pond basic, primary and high schools. Several professionals in the community were also prevented from going to work.
The mayhem came less than 24 hours after National Security Minister Senator Dwight Nelson flew into Montego Bay and announced plans to establish a police post in the nearby Montego Hills neighbourhood.
He also said 40 additional personnel would be deployed to the St James Police Division to strengthen its manpower.