No tears for Clarendon six

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NO one wept for the six men who were shot dead in Effortville, Clarendon, yesterday.

Instead, the handful of residents who gathered at the scene following the early morning military operation were more outraged about the state of their community shop, which had been ransacked in the process.

“Is the only shop over here. This is where everybody come buy,” said one of the women who rummaged through the rubble trying to salvage goods to reshelve. “Mi nuh have no Sunday dinner now, because see it deh, dem dash out the whole a di rice and flour.”

The shop owner, 58-year-old Zacharriah Nelson, known as Terminator to community members, was taken into custody following the pre-dawn operation that took place in his two-storey home and business place. Residents said he lived there with his two grandsons, ages five and eight.

The residents collectively denied knowing any of the six alleged criminals killed, one of whom is 25-year-old Zemar Andre Nelson, otherwise known as Terminator Boy, who is from the community. Nelson was one of the most wanted men in Clarendon, and was being sought by the police for charges relating to murder and shooting with intent.

Also killed were Leon “Hitler” Rose, a 25-year-old labourer of no fixed address, and Ajay McDonald, 19, a labourer of Redlight District in Clarendon. Rose was also wanted by the police for murder. Up to press time the police were still working to ascertain the identities of the other men.

Reports from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) are that a military team, operating under the state of emergency in Clarendon, was deployed to Buzz Rock, Effortville, to conduct a targeted raid on the premises shortly after midnight on Sunday, which resulted in a gun battle with the men.

When the firefight subsided, three weapons – an M16 rifle, an AK47 assault rifle, and a shotgun – were seized, along with about 60 rounds of ammunition. One soldier was grazed by a bullet on his lower right leg, while another narrowly escaped a bullet to the head when his ballistic helmet was hit.

“The gunmen, who are suspected to be members of the dangerous Bushman Gang in Clarendon, were taken to hospital where they were pronounced dead,” the JDF said in a release. “The Bushman Gang has been linked to a number of serious crimes, including murders and shootings in the Effortville and surrounding Clarendon areas, and have been under investigation by the Jamaica Constabulary Force for some time.”

Residents said the barrage of bullets pierced the warm Emancipation night and sent shock waves through the usually quiet farming community.

Nadine Howe told the Jamaica Observer that she woke up in a panic when she heard the explosions, less than 100 metres from her home.

“Mi just inna mi sleep and mi hear the whole heap a gunshots and jump up,” she said. “When mi jump up now is like mi heart just a race! A two cup a water me haffi drink.”

“A di first mi ever hear so much shot inna my life,” a man who asked not to be named said. “A when daylight dem done.”

While the residents were tight-lipped about the identities and characters of those killed, they fumed at the state in which the community shop was left after the operation.

“Even if dem come for who dem come for, what I’m saying is that dem coulda deal with the situation better,” Howe said, gesturing towards the pile of broken bottles, opened baked goods, and other items on the ground. “You nuh haffi dash weh the rice. You nuffi haffi dash weh the flour. Memba a di one likkle community shop, and we can’t mek wi pickney dem dead fi hungry.”

Another woman inside the shop opened the freezer to show that not even the frozen meats had been spared. They also complained that security personnel who came to process the scene in the morning had their fill of snacks and beverages, and proceeded to damage more goods arbitrarily.

“One a di police just use him hand a scrape out everything outa di glass case!” an irate man said. “Dem tek what them want and just open the rest of the goods, just fi spite.”

He went on to say that “Termi”, as they affectionately called the shopkeeper, is an industrious man who worked hard to establish his business.

“Right now a him [Nelson] hog and chicken dem me aggo feed,” he said. “Is a hard-working man. Him used to do construction work, and now him raise him animals and run the shop. A hard work build this, a nuh anything else.”

“Right now mi owe him,” a woman chimed in. “Because when we nuh have it him trus’ wi the goods until we can pay him back for them.”

Effortville is an area just outside the parish capital of May Pen. A state of emergency was declared in Clarendon last September, following a spike in murders and violent crimes in the parish.

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