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(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – MERE hours after the Sunday Observer reported that officials at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) were celebrating not having any gunshot-related deaths at the institution for the month of October, a gun attack at a funeral on Windward Road put a damper on their jubilation.
The gun attack took place yesterday at the King’s Chapel Seventh-day Adventist Church during a funeral service for a vendor who had been stabbed to death in downtown Kingston. Reports from alleged eyewitnesses are that men opened gunfire outside the church injuring mourners.
Up to press time last night the police Corporate Communications Unit was unable to provide information on the shooting incident. In fact, the commanding officer for the east Kingston police, Superintendent Robert Walker, told the Observer late last night that investigators had just finished processing the crime scene at the church while others were still on location at KPH.
Yesterday, the injured individuals were rushed to the hospital, resulting in pandemonium as most of the people who were at the funeral for the vendor, who has been identified as “Boysie”, accompanied them to the medical facility.
According to Errol Greene, chief executive officer of the hospital that is located in the volatile area of west Kingston, at about 3:00 pm “we had some unusual activities, persons coming in with gunshot wounds”.
“As of right now we have nine persons from this particular incident that were shot. Nine gunshot wounds, two died on arrival,” he told reporters gathered outside the hospital’s accident and emergency department.
“Two are in surgery at the moment, others are being treated in the accident and emergency area. Dr Natalie Whylie, our senior medical officer, has instructed for additional surgeons to be called out. We have opened additional theatres and, to compound the situation, we also had a motor vehicle accident where one person was killed, so all of that coming into the hospital at one time would naturally be a drain on us,” he added.
Dr Whylie, who was also on location, said that part of KPH’s standard operating policy under these circumstances is for additional staff to be called, which resulted in more consultant surgeons and nursing staff being summoned, and four emergency theatres being opened.
Dr Whylie also mentioned that security at the institution was beefed up with more police officers visible on the compound to accommodate people visiting their loved ones, as one of the major challenges was crowd control.
When news broke that one of the gunshot victims had died. The victim’s friends, relatives, and those who had left the funeral to offer support at the hospital wept openly.
One woman, who was inconsolable, sat on the sidewalk outside the hospital grieving while another stomped her feet, declaring: “It will not end that way.”
It is alleged that the gun attack is a result of an ongoing feud between rival factions from West Street and Luke Lane in downtown Kingston.
As to why the attack was carried out at the funeral, one man who spoke on condition of anonymity said “Boysie” was not a “bad man” and he was well-respected, so it was widely known that those at odds would have attended his funeral. According to the man, it presented the perfect opportunity for conflict.
Another individual said he is anticipating that yesterday’s incident will result in a bloody Christmas.