Michael Nattoo – Staff Reporter
It took nearly two hours of nonstop gunfire, the near-lethal injuring of two police officers and a tactical breach team from the JDF to take down one of St. James’ Most Wanted – Nico ‘Bowza’ Samuels, who, just last year (2017), was wanted for a triple murder.
What many residents in the upscale community of Hatfield Meadows, Coral Gardens hoped would have been another quiet Sunday afternoon, quickly turned into a ferocious exchange of gunfire between lawmen and an undisclosed number of men, including Samuels, who were holed up in a residence inside the community.
It is unclear how the lawmen became aware of the men’s presence in that house, but upon approaching it, according to reports, the lawmen were greeted with a barrage of bullets, beginning what turned out to be a 2-hour long shootout, which saw special forces flown from Kingston to neutralize the threats to the community and the, at the time, outmatched police officers.
JDF BREACH UNIT
According to one resident, who claimed to have witnessed the events unfolding, “As the man dem [lawmen] approach [the house], shots turn on pon dem.” The resident further relayed that as gunfire was exchanged between the officers and the men, two helicopters shortly after came, from which a number of soldiers were seen exiting. Unconfirmed reports are that those men represented a Jamaica Defense Force tactical breaching unit.
Even with the addition of that elite force, the gunfire persisted, with the men seemingly matching the officers bullet for bullet, causing some to allege that up to six men were inside the house returning fire on the lawmen – a statement which has yet to be confirmed by the Jamaica Constabulary Force or the JDF.
As the perilous exchange continued, however, two lawmen were wounded, with reports indicating that one was hit in his right shoulder, while the other, also a member of the JCF, sustained injuries to his legs.
Despite the increasing danger and the loss of manpower from losing the two officers to bullet injuries, the lawmen remained undeterred and shortly after, cordoned off the entire compound, making way for the JDF’s breach team to swoop into action.
Several unconfirmed reports suggest that after the compound was cordoned off, a contingent of JCF and JDF officers surrounded the property, allowing the breach team to strategically advance, following which a barrage of bullets rang out.
Samuels’ bullet-riddled body was observed lying on the ground, clad in a white merino and a black jeans pants, next to a closet which he allegedly attempted to seek refuge in.
Two firearms were reportedly recovered from the scene.
It is being reported that no other men were found in the house, but an anonymous source revealed to the Western Mirror that other individuals who were unrelated to the shootings were trapped in the house, and that they were later detained by the police for questioning. Up to press time, attempts to get an official report from the JCF’s Corporate Communication Unit, CCU, proved futile as we were told that they had not yet been given a report on the incident.
WHO WAS NICO ‘BOWZA’ SAMUELS?
Samuels was declared one of St. James’ Most Wanted in January of 2018, following his criminal exploits, including a triple murder, last year in the parish. A source, speaking to the Western Mirror on condition of anonymity, revealed that Samuels had close ties to the once active Ski-Mask Gang. The source further revealed that following a fallout, Samuels started operating independently, stringing together a number of criminal offences during that period.