News

Rockfort under siege again

Gang violence leaves at least two dead, several injured and an entire community in fear following murder of former 'don'

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, June 27, 2019

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Residents of Rockfort in east Kingston are once again cowering in fear as another round of violence rocks the community.

But this time the residents say the fear is greater as there is no clear indication of where the gangsters are based and where the imaginary border lines have been drawn.

According to residents, in the past they were well aware of who were the warring factions, as was the case last year when gangsters from Oliver Road and the neighbouring Jarrett Lane were at odds.

“But this time shot a fire over deh so, over deh so and all about in the community shot a fire. I don't know where me no hear shot a fire last night (Tuesday),” said one of the handful of residents who were willing to speak with the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

“Tuesday the shot dem start fire from about six o'clock in the evening and it never done until after six this morning (Wednesday),” added the resident.

“Rockfort done, it crumble and it can't come back. Every time something happen here instead it a get little better, it get worse. Every minute is a different area, when a no Jarrett Lane man dem a kill off the whole a we, now is Shanti man dem and a whole bag a thing,” said another resident, as she pointed to the area where the latest murder took place in the community yesterday morning.

The residents say the violence started with the killing of a former community strongman “Charlie Wapp” last Friday.

This was confirmed by recently installed head of the Kingston Eastern Police Division Stephanie Lindsay who identified Charlie Wapp as Christopher Thomas.

“He would have had his fair share of contact with the law. He was charged with various offences in the past, including murder and shooting and was reporting on condition of bail for illegal possession of a firearm,” said Lindsay.

“Based on our information he was killed by gang members who he was in conflict with, but based on his influence in the community we are seeing a different type of gang conflict happening in Rockfort, which has a number of gangs and organised criminal groups.

“Following the killing of Charlie Wapp gang members took sides with those opposed to his killing joining forces against those who believe he should have been killed. So in this case it is like the entire Rockfort gangsters have become two gangs, or a coalition of gangsters, engaged in violent conflict,” added Lindsay.

It is believed that the members of the Shanti and Corner One gangs have joined forces to avenge Charlie Wapp's killing, while members of between six and eight gangs are defending it.

According to Lindsay, since the latest flare-up the police have been getting reports of groups of 15 to 20 men with high-powered weapons roaming the streets.

“Since last Friday, on a daily basis, we have been getting reports of heavy gunfire. We have had instances where police teams have also come under attack from these heavily armed men.”

Lindsay acknowledged that the shootings have left residents in fear and charged that this has been compounded by an influx of criminals from outside the community who have been brought in to bolster the Rockfort-based gangs.

“We have carried out several operations and arrested a number of persons, some wanted for murder, and many of them were engaged in criminal activities outside of Rockfort,” said Lindsay, as she noted that the man killed in Rockfort yesterday morning was reporting to the Westmoreland police as he was on bail for a crimes committed in that parish.

The police superintendent said despite the challenges the police are working to stem the violence in the community with the first target being to reduce the frequent gunfire.

“The police are in charge of law and order in this country and we are not going to relent. We will utilise all the resources we have to ensure that this level of violence is reduced,” declared Lindsay.

She said the police have identified a number of suspects in the ongoing conflict but are only ready to release the name of Andrew Facey, otherwise called “Andrew Phang” or “Little Andrew”, who is wanted in connection with a murder.

Lindsay said the east Kingston police are getting support from other police units and the Jamaica Defence Force but they also need the help of residents.

“We are willing to work with all the residents and we want to engage them more because they know more than we know and if they don't share the information that they have we will not be in a position to quickly treat with the situation,” said Lindsay.

Since the start of this year the police in the Kingston Eastern Division have arrested and charged more than 30 people for murders and shootings. The police have also seized more than 20 illegal firearms, including four in the Rockfort area, ever the past two weeks.


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