Press Clippings

Cop slain, 3 hurt Gunmen, police trade bullets in East Kingston

The security forces last night clamped a curfew on sections of East Kingston in the wake of extended violence there yesterday which left a policeman shot dead, three others wounded, and suspected gunman shot and fled.

And Police Commissioner Francis Forbes, announced that "Operation Intrepid," the JDF led assault on crime, is to be resumed and beefed up to tackle the recent upsurge of gun violence in sections of the Corporate Area of Kingston and St. Andrew and elsewhere which saw 70 people being murdered in the first 25 days of April, 56 of them in the Corporate Area.

The volatile communities of "Back Bush", McGregor Gully, Jacques and Langston Roads, east Kingston, erupted in gun violence yesterday

Jamaica Defence Force soldiers yesterday in position at the Vineyard Town police station, Kingston 3, following a rumor that gunmen planned to invade it.

An intermittent gun battle between gunmen and police and soldiers over a five-hour period, ended with Corporal Roland Layne, 33, of the Constabulary Communication Network, Police Headquarters, Old Hope Road, St. Andrew, being shot dead. He joined the Jamaica Constabulary Force in July 1991.

The injured policemen are Corporal Lincoln Thomas of the Half-Way Tree station and Constables Kenneth Myers and Richard Lee, both from the Mobile Reserve, Harman Barracks, Up-Park Camp.

An alleged gunman was also killed and a 9mm semi-automatic pistol taken from him, the police say. Up to press time the police said he was unidentified. Yesterday’s flare-up came in the wake of the fatal shooting of Sylvester "Punky" Wint who residents claimed was killed by the police in cold blood on Tuesday morning in the Mountain View Avenue area.

Following Tuesday's shooting, placards were placed along a section of Mountain View Avenue, declaring it a "no-entry zone" for the police.

Apparently unaware of what was happening, Cpl. Thomas and his daughter were travelling in a police vehicle along Mountain View Avenue when he came under heavy gunfire.

Police sources say he was returning from picking up his daughter at the Norman Manley International Airport when he ran into the gunfire. He was shot in the head and was reported to be in critical condition. There were reports that his daughter was grazed by a bullet. <>A team of policemen from the Mobile Reserve went to the assistance of Cpl. Thomas and his daughter, they too came under heavy gunfire and Cons. Myers was shot in the thigh, and Cons. Lee in the right elbow.

Disturbance

Cpl. Layne had been on his way from CCN to get information on the disturbance in the area. On reaching near the vicinity of Langston Road and Mountain View Avenue a bullet shattered the windscreen of the unmarked vehicle in which he was travelling with a colleague from CCN, and blew away a part of the left side of his head.

He died minutes later while his colleague, who was driving, was speeding him to hospital. He is survived by a wife and a young son.

(He was the first policeman to have been murdered this year, the other being Det. Sgt. Maurice Shirley, 47, of the internal Affairs Division, Duke Street, downtown Kingston, who was shot dead in a bar in Strathmore Gardens, near Spanish Town St. Catherine on the night of April 14. He is to be buried tomorrow.)

From then on, gunmen from neighbouring communities engaged the police in continual gun battle, often forcing them into retreat. Policemen were heard crying out for help and calling for a senior officer to take command of the situation.

At one stage the gunmen were said to have been planning to attack the nearby Vineyard Town police station. Police said they crept along First Avenue and fired at the station building.

JDF soldiers later took up position at the station.