(Jamaica Gleaner) The sounds of violence pierced the morning sky in the volatile area around Pechon Street in the heart of the commercial district of downtown Kingston yesterday, leaving three dead, after five persons were shot.
Among the victims were two women and a policeman.
The two civilian men – Oshane Bentley, 23; and Jason Watt, 22; were fatally shot at the scene, while a woman identified as Sonya Daley died at hospital. The injured woman has been identified as Gwendolyn Pryce.
Police officials on the scene told The Gleaner that two high-powered weapons were taken from the bodies of the men by crime fighters after the gun battle ceased.
A police report received by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) stated that, about 8 a.m. in the Oxford Market vicinity, a police officer was purchasing items from a higgler when a man approached him and said something to him before pulling a firearm from his waistband. The police officer then allegedly pulled his firearm and fired at the man who was hit.
Another police officer who had passed the first officer earlier heard the explosions and went back to investigate.
“At this time officer B saw another man pull a firearm from his waistband and began to fire at officer A,” INDECOM, which has launched a probe into the incident, quoted from the report. “A woman who was passing by at this moment walked into the line of fire and was shot. Officer B then pulled his firearm and fired at the man who was firing in the direction of officer A, hitting him. During the shooting, another man was also shot and killed.”
Yesterday, residents and vendors appeared dazed as the police kept watch.
“The investigations are in the embryonic stage, but I can tell you that two men are down and two were shot in the crossfire,” a senior police officer told The Gleaner.
Another police officer – an inspector – disclosed that his colleague was shot in the arm.
When The Gleaner arrived at the Kingston Public Hospital, a large crowd had descended on the facility as the bloodied body of one of the men lay in the back of a police pickup van.
There was unrestrained excitement as news of the shooting of the policeman – who is well known in the community – circulated, sending a huge crowd scurrying to the facility.
But it was a young woman from the community who collapsed in grief and had to be assisted by friends when she discovered that the body of her brother was in the police vehicle, even as others, mostly women from the community, looked on in horror.
The body of the other man was left at the Pechon Street scene that was taped off and manned by a heavy contingent of police personnel.