KINGSTON – Kingston Western Member of Parliament Desmond McKenzie Sunday decried the upsurge in violence in the community after the shooting of a five-year-old girl on Tulip Lane in Denham Town.
“This is madness, madness that has gone beyond any sense of reasoning. For the last couple of weeks I have been in touch at the highest level with the police in regards to the latest upsurge and the fact that the upsurge has been intensified. We have seen several persons being shot; some have lost their lives. In the past four days this section of the area has been under constant attack,” McKenzie told the Jamaica Observer.
The five-year-old was among four people shot and injured in a drive-by yesterday afternoon. Up to press time yesterday she was said to be in critical but stable condition.
The incident is the latest in a spate of shootings across the city in recent weeks, which police theorize is related to gang warfare over turf. It is the second to directly involve a child. Late last month two-year-old Demario Whyte was killed and his father and another man injured in a drive-by at the corner of Luke Lane and Beeston Street.
In Sunday’s case, the Denham Town police reported that about 12:10 p.m., a group of residents was standing on Tulip Lane when armed men approached and opened gunfire at them. When the shooting subsided it was discovered that three men and the five-year-old girl had been shot.
McKenzie, while noting that the constituency could not afford to lose another life, said that he is hopeful that the child will survive the ordeal.
The MP assured residents that he would do everything possible to end the upsurge in violence in the area, but added that they also have a role to play.
“No Member of Parliament cyaan stop this, and they have to understand that. So it doesn’t make sense they call on the MP and ask me what I am doing. They have the power in their hands because they continue to shield their brothers, sisters, boyfriends, and their sons . . . .
“So don’t talk about the role of the politician, cause we cyaan stop it. Unless they stand up and rise up against it, it will not stop,” McKenzie argued.
The MP said the police have named the shooter in the latest incident, but a release from the Constabulary Communications Unit made no reference to any suspects.
“Names are being called of certain persons who are known to the community and are known to the police . . .,” McKenzie alleged. “This individual whose name is being called was in police custody for two-and-a-half weeks and was recently released by the police.”
“[But] when these persons are apprehended by the police, nobody really [comes] forward to give a statement,” he added, making a generalised statement based on previous incidents.
McKenzie noted that the violence is threatenng to disrupt the new academic year, which begins officially today.
“I am very concerned because school reopens tomorrow [Monday] and this is an indication that, if it continues, the first week of school will be disrupted and I am not going to allow that to happen. I am not going to allow criminals to disrupt the education system. They have done it before, and I am going to be working with the police and residents to ensure that school is open and free of fear,” McKenzie said, with frustration in his voice.
The police, meanwhile, are appealing to residents who may have information about the incidents to share it with them.