(Jamaica Observer) A fight over money charged to swim in the popular Caymanas River in St Catherine is said to be at the heart of the killing of six men in the Caymanas Bay community within 72 hours.
Due to the violence, the Central Village police are advising the public to avoid the attraction, as they could risk being robbed by criminals.
“What I want the general public to understand is that with this fighting taking place, it is not safe for them to come and they might happen to be victims of robbery because if they come around here and there are no proceeds from the mineral for them [criminals], they may prey on them,” Deputy Superintendent of Police Michael Campbell told the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday.
“We have maintained a presence, we have police resources in the area from yesterday [Tuesday],” added Campbell.
Tuesday began on a bloody note as residents were awakened by gunshots approximately 5:30 am.
When the police arrived they found Stephen Bennett, otherwise called Evil, with gunshot wounds. He later succumbed to his injuries.
As the residents were about to sleep late Tuesday, another round of gunshots echoed through the community approximately 10:10 pm.
Early Wednesday morning, the bodies of four men were found at a house in the vicinity of the river. Two of the men were identified as Bobby and Jerry. However, the Observer was told that the other two men are not from the community.
Police told the Observer that two of the four men killed Tuesday night were persons of interest in relation with Bennett’s murder.
On Sunday, a man identified only as “Warrior” was also shot dead in the community.
According to Deputy Superintendent Campbell, the community has been rocked by intermittent violence for some time.
“We have been having some problems with this community over the years. It has been a tit for tat situation. There has been some fighting over the [river]. What we are experiencing now is persons who are fighting for spoils so to speak, benefits from the [river]. The income maybe not shared as how they want it or persons want more of what they are getting,” Campbell explained.
Adults and children who wish to swim in the river are charged $300 and $100, respectively.
Last December, record producer Cleon “Mineral Boss” Jones, 37, was shot dead on the Caymanas Estate Road in St Catherine. At the time, Jones was the man in charge of the collection of money charged to use the river.
“This [river] yu looking at behind me is generating some income, and people are always fighting for spoils,” Campbell said, adding that the river was closed last year following Jones’ murder and a number of shootings in the community.
He said that even though it is challenging to patrol the hilly terrain, the police will maintain a presence in the community to protect law-abiding residents.
“I am here talking to you now and a group of guys might be somewhere in the hill looking at us and saying ‘dah police deh a chat to dah oman deh, watch me and him when him dun’, so we have that disadvantage,” he explained.
He also implored the residents to cooperate with the police.
“The citizens of this country need to recognise that there is only one benefit that can be derived from remaining silent where criminality is concerned, and that is allowing criminality to strive,” Campbell said.
“There is no stranger around here, and what is unfortunate is that some of the victims are close relatives. So when they remain silent, it only allows the criminals to go around and create mayhem, kill with impunity. Nobody is going to come forward because everybody is afraid of losing their life. The only other option is ‘Officer, mi a move out’. They are not telling you that Mr Campbell do it or commit something in writing that the police can take Mr Campbell to court,” he lamented.