- St. James again under siege
Michael Nattoo – Staff Reporter
The murder of a prostitute; an armed, military-like robbery which left two men dead, and the shooting deaths of two other men, all within 24 hours in the again crime-ridden St. James, have left citizens of the parish on edge, fearing that the worst is yet to come.
Dead are 24-year-old Kerrian Campbell, otherwise called ‘Ker’, of John’s Hall; Floyd Wilson, 47-year-old driver of Rosemount Gardens; 61-year-old Canute Earle, a Hawkeye Security Officer; Suneil Foskins, unemployed of Bethel Town, Westmoreland, and Allan Waters, otherwise called ‘Hot Beer’, a 44-year-old labourer.
In what is arguably St. James’ bloodiest day since the State of Emergency was lifted, the tragic slaying of Floyd Wilson and Canute Earle along Jarrett Street on Sunday signaled the beginning of what turned out to be an unusually busy day for Crime Scene Investigators across the parish.
In that much-publicized incident, according to police reports, Wilson and Earle were a part of a team tasked with safely escorting a businessman who was reportedly traveling with important documents, as well as an undetermined sum of cash, suspected to be in the millions.
Details reaching this newsroom are that shortly after collecting two bags of cash and important documents from his business establishment, the businessman boarded his Toyota Hiace bus, which was being driven by Wilson, with Hawkeye security personnel Earle, and another man, providing armed coverage, following closely behind.
On reaching a section of Jarrett Street, the standard escort mission turned deadly when a Toyota motorcar drove out into the path of the Hiace, blocking it along the narrow roadway. In rapid succession, four men, all wearing denim and bulletproof vests and armed with M16 rifles, alighted from the Toyota motorcar and instantly opened fire at the Hiace and the security personnel.
Under the barrage of .223 calibre bullets from the M16 rifles, the businessman somehow managed to escape unharmed, leaving the cash and the documents behind. The armed men, whom many suspect are trained professionals, then made off with the cash and documents in a waiting car, while Wilson and Earle were found to be suffering from gunshot wounds. In a chilling video captured by residents who descended upon the scene of the brazen robbery, Earle was briefly captured holding his neck, which appeared severely wounded by bullets. He died while undergoing surgery, after he and the other Hawkeye security personnel, who also sustained multiple gunshot but is now in stable condition, were rushed to the hospital by residents. Wilson, however, died on the spot.
Crime Scene Investigators, who were quick to the scene of the shocking robbery/double murder, had to stretch themselves thin after being alerted to the body of a female being found along Fisherman’s Beach off Howard Cooke Boulevard.
The dispatched investigators arrived at their second murder scene of the day, where the body of Campbell was found, clad in a burgundy shirt and blue jeans shorts, with multiple stab wounds observed, and its head bashed in.
According to unconfirmed reports, Campbell, who regularly uses the beach to conduct sexual transactions, was seen arguing with one of her suspected clients. The reports further allege that minutes later, Campbell brandished a pair of scissors, and not long after, neither she nor her client were seen. The dispute was reportedly over her client refusing to pay her.
On Sunday morning, her body was found lying face down along the beach. Investigations continue.
Meanwhile, police personnel could not catch a break on Sunday as some distance away, in Norwood, St. James, in close proximity to an area known as ‘Hollywood’, Walters, who’s more popularly known as ‘Hot Beer’, was shot and killed by unknown assailants.
According to information reaching this newsroom, Walters was sitting at the intersection of Forrest Lane and Daca Tone Square, when men in a white Toyota Premio motorcar pulled up next to him. Men reportedly alighted from the vehicle and opened fire on Walters, hitting him to the upper body. Another man who was close by was also injured in the incident, but only suffered a grazed, upper left arm. Both men were rushed to the Cornwall Regional Hospital, where Walters was pronounced dead.
That would not be the last stop for crime sleuths, as shortly after, sometime around 10:00 a.m., the lawmen were called to neighbouring Farm Hill, where another murder had taken place. In that incident, the police later found out, Suneil Foskins was doing construction work on a house, when a lone gunman approached and opened fire at him.
Foskins was shot to the head and upper body, and after being rushed to the Cornwall Regional Hospital, he was pronounced dead on arrival.
BUSINESS COMMUNITY WORRIED
St. James has recorded more than its share of murders since the State of Emergency has been lifted, and the business community has taken notice of the worrying trends. In a joint statement released by the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) and the Jamaica Hotel Tourist Association and (JHTA), there are “increasing concerns regarding the trend of criminal activities within the city of Montego Bay and the parish of St. James since the announced intentions and actual withdrawal of the Enhanced Security Measures (State of Public Emergency).”
Both bodies shared that despite the government’s reassurances that every effort will be made to ensure the parish builds on the gains made under the State of Public Emergency, the “rising trend of brazen, cold-hearted shootings and killings” has betrayed the Jamaican government’s expressed sentiments.
“The MBCCI and the JHTA are calling on the Government of Jamaica and the joint security forces to hasten the implementation of the relevant policies, legislation and strategies to bring an instant halt to this undesirable trend that has returned to the city and parish of St. James,” they shared.
The recent murders account for just a fraction of the rising criminality here in the parish, and do not fully account for the worrying trend of crime across the parish. There have been a number of shootings across St. James, one of which saw the home of recently deceased youngster, Jordanian Hodges, being shot up by marauding gunmen, during which a senior citizen was injured and hospitalized.