Jamaica Gleaner / The busy Royal Avenue in Linstead, St Catherine, was a picture of chaos yesterday morning, with vendors and shoppers scampering for cover as gunmen peppered three men with bullets.
The brazen incident happened about 11:30, in broad daylight, and when many vendors like ‘Pappa’, who owns a juice stall nearby, were just breaking their ducks.
The men’s identities had not been confirmed up to late yesterday afternoon, but police said that one died at hospital, another succumbed to his injuries on the spot, while the other is battling for life.
“Is a case of bad weed a kill out bad weed, you hear, sah! Dem know who dem a kill. Side against side a go on, and anybody you see dem a kill, dem connected or know what a go on,” said Pappa, indicating that a heated rivalry between extortionists from nearby communities holds vendors and their customers hostages of fear.
“I don’t even make 9 o’clock at night catch me out here. One time gone, I would come out for Grand Market … what reason I have to come out here now? Every day you hear somebody dead,” Pappa continued, theorising that the Linstead by-pass and the recently constructed highway has been slowly stifling businesses in the area and that youngsters are turning to a life of crime to make a living.
“I just come out here with God because is Him alone can protect us. Outside of that, we just have to look out of we eye and prepare to run,” said another elderly female vendor.
Police believe that yesterday’s victims were among at least eight persons murdered in a bloody gang feud, which they said is turning the neighbouring communities of Banbury and Victoria into ghost towns. Several residents have reportedly fled the area as the shootings continue.
Onlookers said that the men were sitting at a popular spot when they were accosted by three men who opened fire, hitting them. The attackers then fled, jumping nearby fences to make their escape.
Police rushed with two of the men to hospital, but the third was shot in the head, and his body was still on the ground.
Police cordoned off the crime scene, causing a huge traffic gridlock in the usually congested area as onlookers crowded around to take photos of the dead man.