‘Worrying start’

JUST four days into the new year, five people have already been killed in the parish of Clarendon.

In fact, Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifford Chambers, who heads the Police Area Three — which includes Clarendon, St Elizabeth, and Manchester — has admitted that the slayings mark a “worrying start” to 2018.

Four of the brutal killings occurred on Tuesday, while the fifth body was found yesterday.

On Tuesday, Orlando Beckford, a 39-year-old taxi driver, was killed by gunmen.

“That gentleman was shot and killed in the Hayes community. He stopped to let off a passenger and there were attempts at robbing him,” ACP Chambers told the Observer yesterday.

“He sped away, after which the gunmen opened fire.

“Law enforcement officers responded to the explosions and they rushed him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival,” ACP Chambers continued.

The senior cop said investigations have so far proven that robbery was the motive. He also said Beckford was not known or suspected to have been involved any gangs.

In a release yesterday, president of Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services Edgeton Newman expressed concern about the killing of taxi operators.

“Last year 39 operators were brutally murdered, and it seems that there is nothing that the State can do to address the issue as the nation’s over 30,000 transport operators are left to the mercy of the Almighty,” the release stated.

Newman called on Transport Minister Mike Henry and Minister of National Security Robert Montague to join forces and find a way to put a stop to the brutal killing of taxi operators.

Also on Tuesday, according to a report from the police Corporate Communications Unit, 40-year-old farmer Franklyn Morgan was shot dead in Settlement, York Town, about 8:00 am. He was a resident of Content district in the parish.

A teenager was also killed Tuesday afternoon, about 1:00 pm.

Seventeen-year-old Odane Baker, otherwise called “Omari”, of Rhules Pen in May Pen was shot dead by unknown assailants on Cemetery Road. Then, about 9:00 pm, in Lionel Town, Fitzroy Joseph, a 33-year-old barber, was also shot dead.

Yesterday, the body of 31-year-old auto body repairman Kevin Francis was found on Orange Street in the parish.

The police say residents heard explosions on Tuesday night and Francis, who was from Havana Heights in the parish, was found lying on the road with multiple gunshot wounds the following day.

Although ACP Chambers has admitted that the murders are a worrying start to the new year, he told the Observer he is confident about the efforts of law enforcement officers to solve crimes.

“Since the start of the year we were able to arrest five persons who were involved in the drugs-for-ammunitions trade. Three of them are Haitian, and two are Jamaican,” he said.


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