Jamaica Gleaner / While many poor Jamaicans wish for proper shelter and a square meal at Christmas, a handful of inner-city residents bemoaning hard times want nothing more than an immediate end to the bloodletting across the country.

“If the killing doesn’t stop, some serious disaster a go reach we. This country is going to be destroyed by water,” exclaimed 69-year-old Joseph Wright yesterday during the Food For The Poor and Salvation Army’s annual Christmas treat at Emmett Park in Kingston.

Wright’s comments come as the country’s murder rate has surpassed the 1,500 mark for the first time in seven years.

Data from the police Corporate Communications Unit has shown that 1,521 persons were murdered between January 1 and December 12. The Gleaner on Wednesday revealed that a staggering 9,937 persons have been killed between January 1, 2010, and December 12, 2017.

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen Jamaica,” added Wright, a long-time resident of central Kingston, who said he fell on hard times after his employer, a security company, went out of business about eight years ago.

Unable to find work, the outspoken senior admitted that his survival has since hinged on the kindness of a close friend as well as members of the North Street Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which he attends.

“I know hard times first hand, and it has never crossed my mind to take people things, or worse, a life. So I’m begging the nation, especially the youth man them, stop the crime! Work is here, and work a come. Everybody not going to get the same level of work, but please, stop the senseless killing! Put down the gun, and take up the Bible,” he pleaded.

“I beg you, God, grant this wish!”

Part-time security guard Kaylene Brown shared Joseph Wright’s views, describing the crime situation as a plague in need of a cure.

“It (crime situation) sickening,” said the 62-year-old Bournemouth Gardens resident.

“While I want better for my daughter and grandchildren, especially at Christmas time, my biggest wish is for the bloodletting to stop; it’s for my country to have peace. It cannot be that the hospital and the Church are no longer safe. It cannot be that you’re not even safe at a funeral. I beg of you, God, grant this wish,” said Brown as those in her company nodded in agreement.

As The Gleaner roamed the grounds of Emmett Park for nearly two hours, whispers of crime and violence were audible.

For 33-year-old Jones Town resident Kelly O’Brien, the crime situation is a threat to the greatest gift of all, whether innocent or otherwise.

“What is there without life?” O’Brien asked while clutching her two-year-old son and waiting to be served a meal.

The operator of a small grocery shop, O’Brien said that crime has all but crippled her business.

“Where my business is located isn’t really a lively place, so is mostly the passers-by that support me, and there aren’t a lot of them because people are fearful that gunshot will just start fire at any given moment. If the crime should stop, businesses would improve. I could fully support my family. I wouldn’t need to be here,” she said.

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