WESTERN BUREAU:

The St Elizabeth police are reporting that a gang feud is behind the parish’s latest double murder, stemming from the shooting of five persons at a bar near Black River on Friday night.

Those killed have been identified as 38-year-old taxi operator and shop owner Marlon Gager, of Spring Park in Black River; and 34-year-old bartender Samantha Johnson, of a Spanish Town, St Catherine, address.

Reports are that at approximately 10:40 p.m. on Friday, gunmen went to the Spring Park community, where they opened fire, shooting five persons. Gager died on the spot, while Johnson succumbed to her injuries in hospital.

“It is an intra-gang conflict that is causing the violence in the Spring Park community. It was one group, but now there is a breakaway,” theorised Superintendent Dwight Daley.

He told The Sunday Gleaner that the police were on patrol in the area when they heard the gunshots, but by the time they rushed to the scene, the attackers had already escaped.

The incident pushed the parish’s homicide figure to 18 since the start of the year. According to statistics provided by the Jamaica Constabulary Force, 16 murders were recorded in St Elizabeth between January 1 and May 7 this year, compared to nine for the same period last year.

“What I am going to do now is to put additional resources into the space so we can cover a wider area and have a permanent police presence to stop the bloodletting,” Daley said. “We can’t just patrol Spring Park. We have to go to adjoining communities, where members of the criminal group reside.”

While not revealing the name of the gang they suspect is responsible for Friday night’s attack, the police said the members of this gang have been operating in the area for a very long time and are responsible for several murders and robberies in the St Elizabeth Police Division.

“This gang is responsible for a number of major break-ins in the division and islandwide. They specialise in poker boxes. Anywhere there is a poker box, they are coming for it, and they are a group of professional breakers,” said Daley.

“It’s a very dangerous gang and we have to destroy it. We are not going to stop until it is done.”

Daley also said that the gang was suspected to be responsible for another double murder as well as the rape of a bartender on April 12 this year in Malvern.

Those victims were 36-year-old Mickel James of Mount Pleasant in Malvern, and a man known only as Courtney, of Santa Cruz.

“It’s most unfortunate to know that this incident has reached this level, where, in one night, five persons can be shot,” said Derrick Sangster, mayor of Black River, when contacted by The Sunday Gleaner.

albert.ferguson@gleanerjm.com


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