Two pregnant women and an elderly man were among four persons killed in two separate incidents by gunmen who went on a rampage in St James Wednesday night.
Police identified the deceased as 36-year-old Ash-Marie Plummer, also called Theresa, and 73-year-old Alvin Reid, both of Granville, St James; Shantell Davis, 19, and Easton Chambers, 36, also called Brian, of Dundee, Maroon Town, in this parish.
Police report that about 9:30 pm Davis and Chambers, who were said to be involved in a common-law relationship, were at a jerk centre they operated in Maroon Town when they were attacked by armed men whose bullets sent patrons scampering in different directions.
After the shooting ended, the couple was found with gunshot injuries. They were taken to Cornwall Regional Hospital where they were pronounced dead.
According to family members, Davis was nine months pregnant.
Her mother, Shernette Campbell, was visibly traumatised by her daughter’s tragic passing.
“I don’t know why this has happened to her; I am so traumatised. Not because I am not crying, but my heart is aching. She died and leave a little girl,” said Campbell.
“My daughter was a very nice and loving person. She was nine months pregnant,” bemoaned the distressed mother. “It is very hard for the community.”
In the other incident, Plummer and Reid were shot when gunmen walked up to a group of persons playing a game of bingo at a shop along Guns Lane in Granville and opened fire.
Both victims were rushed to Cornwall Regional Hospital where they were pronounced dead.
Plummer was said to be playing bingo, while the elderly man reportedly walked into the line of fire.
The elderly man’s widow, Estrianna, could not come to grips with news of her husband’s killing.
“Everybody frighten. A hear me hear seh him dead and me run come. And when me run come, we could not face him because the police were here. So me couldn’t go near,” the distraught widow lamented. “Whole night me no sleep. Me have to just lie down in the bed because me couldn’t sleep. Me never expect it because him never sick or anything.”
Dorothy Grant, a relative of Plummer, said: “I heard she was out here playing bingo and heard that two men shoot her and two shots connect in her head.”
Another family member disclosed that Plummer was two months pregnant.
Yesterday, commander of Area One police division, Assistant Commissioner of Police Devon Watkis, said that the killings may have been influenced by the lotto scam.
“Early indications are pointing to the influence of the lotto scam and gang activities,” Watkis told the Jamaica Observer late last evening.
He was, however, quick to explain that he was not suggesting that the victims were themselves players in the lotto scam, but argued that family members might be involved.
Last week, speaking at a Rotary Club meeting in Montego Bay, Watkis revealed that 60 per cent of the murders in St James stemmed from the lotto scam.
Wednesday night’s two double murders have pushed up the murder tally in the St James police division to 117, since the start of the year, representing an increase of 11 over the corresponding period last year.
The latest murders have spurred North West St James MP Horace Chang to call on leaders, including the parliamentary representatives in St James, to come together and find ways to assist the police to control the spiralling murder rate.
“It is a real tragedy. It is worrying in St James, causing us to have a horrifying murder rate. Although the incidents did not take place in my constituency, all of us as leaders are concerned. We have to support the police and look at expanding the work of the CSJP (Citizen Security and Justice Programme) to ensure sustainable and long-term solutions,” Dr Chang said.
He called on the Government to continue infrastructure upgrading work started by the previous Administration in informal settlements, similar to that which was recently carried out in the inner-city community of Flanker in his constituency. He attributed the recent reduction of murders in Flanker to the upgrade work.