GOODWILL, St James — Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Clifford Blake yesterday described the joint police/military operation in the Goodwill community of St James on Saturday night, in which six alleged members of the Ski Mask Gang were killed, as “a brave and courageous effort” by the lawmen.
Police said four guns and a quantity of ammunition were seized following the deadly shoot-out.
“We are yet to get all the details of the operation, but from all indications it was a brave and courageous effort by members of the security forces in the face of danger,” said DCP Blake during a tour of a section of the community, which was the scene of an alleged firefight between the lawmen and members of the gang.
“It is really a commendable effort. They [police] came under severe threat and they responded to defend themselves. To face a gang of well-armed criminals in the night, firing at you, and taking the reputation of these guys into consideration . . . they are dangerous criminals; they are people who don’t hesitate to murder people . . . so it’s really bravery and courage of the highest order.”
The operation, which involved members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and the Mobile Reserve of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, was acting in response to information reportedly received about the gang that is said to have been involved in recent shootings in the Barrett Town area of St James.
The police reported that about 9 p.m. on Saturday, lawmen, strategically positioned on a section of the Goodwill main road, signalled the driver of a Toyota Corolla motor car in which the alleged gang members were travelling, to stop. The vehicle reportedly came to a halt, then shortly afterwards the occupants exited the vehicle and fired at the lawmen. The fire was returned, and when the shooting subsided the six were discovered with gunshot wounds. They were taken to hospital where they were pronounced dead.
Five of them have since been identified as: Oswyn Jarrett, otherwise called “Ski Mask”, the alleged leader of the gang; Deno Pryce, alias “Buju”; Marlon Samuels, alias “Brutus”; and two identified only by aliases “Shenky”; and “Fargo”.
A policeman was also injured during the incident, while the four firearms reportedly recovered by the security forces from the scene of the gunfight are: a Ruger P89 9mm pistol, serial number 309214; a Mini Firestorm Thunder 9mm pistol, serial number 670447; one single-action Browning pistol, with serial number erased; and a HS 9mm pistol, serial number 19666. A number of magazines were also recovered with a quantity of ammunition.
One JDF vehicle involved in the operation is said to have been damaged in the incident, as well as another vehicle believed to be owned by a Goodwill resident, which was reportedly parked in the area during the operation. There was no one in that vehicle.
Yesterday, the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) said in a statement that it has already launched a probe into the incident.
“Our team, which is still on scene, has been on the ground since late last night [Saturday] conducting forensic examinations, interviewing members of the security forces, canvassing for witnesses, and other investigations. The members of the JDF have been very cooperative during the investigations,” said INDECOM.
Meanwhile, DCP Blake told the Jamaica Observer that those who were killed were responsible for a number of serious crimes, including murders and robberies across sections of St James.
He added that the gangsters had, in recent months, firebombed several houses in the Jenkins Corner area of Barrett Town, and had forced several residents there to abandon their homes.
Several residents of Goodwill, who claimed that they were a short distance away from the joint police/military operation, told the Observer yesterday that they were in a state of panic during what they described as a “fierce firefight”.
“It wasn’t pretty. It was the most gunshots I have ever heard in my life,” said a 50-odd-year-old resident, claiming the shooting occurred about 200 metres from where he was standing.
Anthony Jarrett, another resident, said he was at a shop about 100 metres from where the shoot-out took place, when the shots started to ring out.
He said he, along with several others who were at the shop, fled the scene as the gun battle intensified, adding that the barrage of gunshots reverberated across the usually quiet and peaceful community.
“I had to run leave my car when the shooting started because we weren’t sure exactly what was happening. It was really frightening. I have never heard so many gunshots in all my life, not even in a movie. Trust me, the whole of Goodwill vibrated during the shoot-out which lasted for more than 25 minutes. It was one of the most dramatic experiences of my life,” said a seemingly shaken Jarrett.
Another resident said he went under his bed during the exchange of gunshots from what, he said, appeared to be high-powered weapons, for the most part.
“The explosions were thunderous. People in neighbouring communities, and even as far as Dumfries and Adelphi, which are more than five miles away, were calling to find out what was going on here [Goodwill]”, he added.