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(JAMAICA GLEANER) — Government Senator Kamina Johnson Smith says the brazen killing of Pastor James Johnson inside his St Catherine church yesterday afternoon is a clear sign that criminals no longer subscribe to the unwritten code that violence against some vulnerable groups and in some places are off limits.
“We understand, anecdotally, that there are rules among gunmen that babies, the elderly and the church were sacrosanct,” Johnson Smith said.
But, Johnson Smith, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and Leader of Government Business in the Senate, said, “it seems those rules don’t exist anymore.”
She was speaking this morning as the Senate began debating an extension of the State of Public Emergency in the St Catherine North Police Division for another three months.
The House of Representatives approved the extension on Tuesday.
According to the police, pastor Johnson, 29, was shot several times shortly after he arrived at his church located on Old Harbour Road, an area covered by the state of public emergency in the St Catherine North police division.
Johnson Smith described the clergyman as someone who loved life and was full of energy.
Opposition Senator Damion Crawford said he knew Johnson personally.
In urging her colleagues to support the extension of the anti-crime measure, Johnson Smith revealed that murders and shootings have declined significantly in the 160 days since the state of public emergency was first imposed.
To support this assertion, she said the police recorded 27 murders and 22 shootings since the state of public emergency was imposed compared with 82 murders and 72 shootings in the 160 days prior to the anti-crime initiative.
Overall, she said murders are down 21 per cent and shootings have declined 35 per cent when compared with the corresponding period last year.