Soldier injured during August Town firefight

THE Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) is awaiting more details as it continues its probe into the shooting of a member of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and a civilian in the eastern St Andrew community of August Town, Thursday night.

Assistant Commissioner of INDECOM Hamish Campbell told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that the investigation is in its early stage and he was not yet in a position to provide any details.

But residents of the section of August Town known as “Vietnam” claim INDECOM investigators collected more than 60 spent shells following what the JDF described as a “firefight”.

According to the JDF, one of its members was hospitalised in critical condition following a shoot-out with gunmen in August Town on Thursday night, hours after two high-powered weapons, an AR15 assault rifle and a shotgun, plus 19 rounds of ammunition were seized in the community.

The JDF said that at about 9:45 pm Thursday a team of soldiers, who were part of ongoing operations in the community, saw a group of men at premises on Bedward Crescent.

The JDF said the men immediately opened fire on the soldiers, leading to a firefight. During the exchange the soldier was shot in the abdomen. He was rushed to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) where he underwent emergency surgery. The soldier is currently in intensive care awaiting further surgeries.

The JDF added that a male from the August Town community has since turned up at the UHWI, suffering from gunshot wounds to both legs. He is being questioned by the police.

However, residents in the area alleged that the man was shot by a member of the JDF while watering his plants. The residents say the man ran after he was shot and made his way to the hospital.

August Town has been a hotbed of gang violence over the past month with at least six persons, including two teenage boys, shot by gunmen in the past seven days.

Last Sunday, 55-year-old Roy Dwyers, a 16-year-old student, and a 17-year-old were shot when a gunman opened fire on a group of people carrying out construction work on a house at 15 Bryce Hill Lane in the vicinity of the Bedward Cemetery.

Numerous anti-gang operations and patrols have been conducted in the past weeks as the security forces target gangs and other criminals in the community.

In the meantime, police sources have identified the alleged Jamaican gangster held in Grand Bahama this week as August Town strongman George Ellis, better known as Boom.

According to the sources, Ellis had travelled to The Bahamas earlier this year as part of a plan to enter the United States illegally but was delayed by the closure of the borders by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Late last year, Ellis was freed of charges of being a participant in a criminal organisation, recruiting people for the organisation, establishing a criminal organisation, and facilitating serious offences by being involved in a criminal organisation as the director of public prosecutions entered a nolle prosequi, ending the case following the murder of the prosecution’s key witness in 2017.