KINGSTON – Rockfort residents yesterday rubbished a claim by the police that a fight for turf between criminal gangs was at the heart of Wednesday evening’s murder of three men in the community.
According to the residents, the shooting of the men had its genesis in an extortion racket operated by gunmen whose ability to engage in criminal activities outside the east Kingston community has been hindered by police anti-crime measures.
“Police a seh a turf war; no turf war not taking place in here, extortion is at the heart of all of what is going on,” said one woman, who requested anonymity.
“Police seh dem clamp down on extortion; nothing don’t go so. It went away for a while, but it slowly returning,” she added as she stood with a group of residents. “What is happening in this community is more than meets the eye.”
On Wednesday evening, 32-year-old Loxley Brown of Harbour Road in Rockfort; 31-year-old Terrence Dixon, otherwise called Fidel, also from Harbour Road; and 23-year-old Aboyonei Stratchan, also known as Abba of Norman Terrace, were shot dead by gunmen at a bar in the community.
When the Jamaica Observer asked why the men were killed, the residents said the gunmen shot them to send a message that no one should resist their demands for cash.
They explained that the killings did not necessarily mean that the three men were approached for money, instead, the gunmen were sending a warning to the community.
“Right now, this bigger than the police,” said a male
Another resident said: “What is happening is that the gang members are turning on themselves. Police intensify their clampdown on the area — no dance or entertainment activities nah keep, so these men are not earning, dem cannot go out a road, so dem turning on themselves, and in turn pressuring the poor residents in the communities in a desperate bid to fund their underground operations.”
The residents said that, because the gangs have suffered at the hands of the police in the past, they were reintroducing the extortion on a different scale, using cellular phones and other modern technology to inform their cronies of the movements of the police.
“Is we the residents start become the targets and come under pressure from these criminals,” said another resident, who was also too afraid to be named.
“The latest set of extortion schemes reach a stage where some people are being forced to pay as much as $7,000 per month for rent in their own homes,” one frightened woman told the Observer.
“Right now, we don’t know what to do. Extortion is slowly returning to the area. It has reached a point where if a man lives in his house with his female companion and she decides to leave the area for a few days and the man decides to bring in another female, criminals demand that the man, who was already being forced to pay a monthly fee, will have to pay extra, claiming it’s for additional occupancy,” said another female resident.
The residents said that as major holidays, such as Christmas, approached, crimes would escalate because the criminals wanted to get more money to fund their operations.
Yesterday, a senior cop said they would be investigating the claims, as the authorities would be doing all in their power to place a lid on the problem.
The detective made the comment on the heels of reports that four men — two of whom were named as persons of interest by the Kingston Eastern Police following the shooting of eight people, three fatally, on St John’s Road, Kingston 2 on Wednesday — are in police custody.