MASKED gunman cuts down popular businessman in Morant Bay 

In a heartrending development on Saturday, a mask-wearing gunman – looking like almost all males in public these days – shot 55-year-old businessman Arju Balani at his business establishment on Queen Street in Morant Bay, St Thomas, resulting in the popular entrepreneur’s death.

A video which has circulated on social media since then, showed several cops ferrying an injured Balani, otherwise called ‘Raj’, to a waiting police vehicle.

Reports from the Morant Bay police are that about midday, Balani and three of his employees were pounced upon by a gunman wearing a mask, who was travelling on foot.

It is reported that the gunman demanded money from Balani before shooting him several times.

The police were alerted and Balani was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

His employees who were at the crime scene escaped unhurt.

Balani hailed from East Prospect in St Thomas.

Jamaica is presently battling a mushrooming public health crisis triggered by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As part of the health-related protocols to combat the global pandemic, members of the public have been encouraged to wear masks in public to stem the spread of the disease, creating a sort of catch-22 for law enforcement officials amid the ‘new normal’.

It is understood that while the wearing of masks in public is accepted to be a necessity of the COVID-19 fight, the scenario will hinder efforts to identify and apprehend possible and actual criminals and wrongdoers in general.

There are now 463 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Jamaica, with the addition of 31 new positives within 24 hours up to Saturday. Eight persons have died nationally from complications with the virus.