Press Clippings

Reign of terror

Cop, gunman killed in fierce gun
battle in Mountain View Avenue area

One policeman and a gunman were shot dead and four persons injured during a fierce and sustained gun battle between criminals and the security forces in the Mountain View Avenue area of Kingston yesterday.

The dead cop is Corporal Roland Layne, a member of the Constabulary Communication Network (CCN) staff who, along with his colleague, Sergeant Victor Henry, was en route to cover the disturbance when a bullet from a high powered rifle shattered the windshield of his car and pierced his head. Layne, who died on the way to hospital, was the second cop to be killed since the start of this year.

"We had cleared a blockage at Deanery Road and about a hundred yards further down we came upon another blockage and I slowed the car. At that point I heard a whistling sound and the windscreen of the Toyota Corolla I was driving shattered," a visibly shaken Sergeant Henry told journalists yesterday. He said that when he looked to his left he saw a lot of blood all over the car and realised that Corporal Layne was shot.

"I hastened to Kingston Public Hospital where my colleague and friend was pronounced dead," Henry said.

Two Jamaica Defence Force Soldiers return fire from gunmen in the Mountain View area of east Kingston yesterday during a gunbattle that lasted more than six hours and which claimed the life of one policeman and a gunman.

Up to last night when the Observer was being prepared for press the dead gunman was still unidentified and the area was placed under curfew.

Among the injured persons were three policemen and a little girl who was travelling from the Norman Manley International Airport with her father (one of the cops injured) in his private car which was shot up by the gunmen.

The battle started at about 11:00 am when heavily armed gunmen from Langston Road and adjoining communities, in what appeared to be a well coordinated operation, traded bullets with policemen and soldiers for well over six hours, reigning terror on the east Kingston community.

The gunmen were said to be using cellular telephones to organise their attacks which were in apparent retaliation for Tuesday morning's killing by the police of Sylvester "Punky" Wint in an alleged shootout.

According to the police, Wint was wanted for questioning in connection with a number of shootings in the area, including an attack on a police patrol at about 1 o'clock that morning.

They said they received information that one of the gunmen was at 51A Mountain View Avenue so they cordoned off the house and asked the occupants to come out.

This police jeep ran off the road and into this gully after it was shot at by gunmen in the Mountain View Avenue area of Kingston yesterday.

The police said that Wint ran out of the house holding a baby in one hand, a gun in the other and opened fire at them. He subsequently dropped the child and, in his bid to escape, was shot.

However, video footage of the incident aired on national television, raised questions about the police account, and on Wednesday the Bureau of Special Investigation said it had started investigating the incident from the day before.

The shooting had sparked a demonstration in the area Tuesday by residents who used debris to block sections of Mountain View Avenue. The police, however, cleared the road.

Yesterday, Mountain View Avenue was blocked again at several points, from the intersection with Deanery Road to Jacques Road. It was while a team of policemen was trying to clear one of the road blocks that they came under heavy fire from gunmen on the high rise buildings adjacent to Langston Road.

Reinforcement from various police stations in the Corporate Area, as well as Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldiers were deployed to the area to provide back-up and restore calm.

A cop taked cover and returns fire from gunmen in yesterday's gun fight.

But the area was transformed into a literal battlefield, as rapid fire gunshots echoed throughout the community, forcing the police and soldiers to hit the ground or take cover behind concrete fences.

While JDF helicopters hovered, giving air support to the ground teams, motorists were forced to detour from the affected area - some on instructions from the police, others from gunmen.

Yesterday, the Ministry of National Security and Justice expressed its condolences to the family of Corporal Layne and those injured in the incident.

"Clearly, there are groups of vicious and violent young persons in this society who have no regard for the lives of others. Their lust for blood is creating mayhem in this country and they are being made by some to believe that they are the only ones with human rights," the ministry said in a statement.

"Communities must disgorge themselves of these gunmen who are holding decent persons as hostages. The time is now for all to join with the police in their effort to restore law and order. Citizens must choose between good and evil, right and wrong, lawlessness and order, the police and gunman," the ministry said.