(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — Two of the St Andrew South Police Division’s top gang leaders who were wanted for murders and shootings in the area were cut down during gunfights with lawmen in separate incidents Thursday.
Yesterday, commanding officer for the division Superintendent Gary Francis told journalists at a press briefing at Hunt’s Bay Police Station that the men — Christopher Armstrong, otherwise called “Shabba”, head of the Shabba Gang, and Dwayne Hall, otherwise known as “Pops”, “Crazy”, “Cray” and ”Killy“, leader of the Blingers Gang — were killed during two separate operations on Thursday.
Police said the Blingers and the Shabba gangs have been fighting to gain control of the scrap metal trade and extortion in the division.
Superintendent Francis said Hall, who was on bail for a shooting incident in Westmoreland, had moved to St Andrew to live with his girlfriend, as part of his bail condition, was responsible for six murders in the St Andrew South Division. He was killed during a confrontation with police in the Callaloo Mews area, near Riverton City, shortly after midday on Thursday. A firearm was seized following the shoot-out, police said.
Approximately 6:00 pm Thursday, Francis said police were conducting an operation in Bayshore Park, Harbour View, when they were fired on by Armstrong. Superintendent Francis said Armstrong, who was shot and injured when police returned the fire, was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
According to the police superintendent, Armstrong was wanted for four murders, four cases of shooting, including the injury of a policeman, and a case of arson. He was also a person of interest in five murder cases, including the death of Latoya Graham, Owen Bowen and Paul Mendez, who were murdered in September 2017, and Shaquille Curry in 2018.
Armstrong and his Shabba Gang members, police said, operated in the tough Riverton City community, Waterhouse and New Haven, all in the St Andrew South Police Division.
Hall was a person of interest in six cases of murder, including the shooting death of Donavan Armstrong on July 24, 2018, and Rajay Bryan in Majesty Gardens in November 2018. He was also a person of interest in the shooting death of Jerome Powell, otherwise known as Dutty Medz, on October 13, 2018, and the shooting death of Demar Richardo Ready, Tajay Fraser and Jerome Powell in July 2017.
Superintendent Francis said four members of the Blingers Gang were also arrested and a firearm seized during a series of raids by the police prior to the fatal shooting of the two gangsters.
The police said recently that Bay Farm Road and Riverton City have been affected by violence as a result of warring Blingers and Shabba gangs.
Life in the communities of Duhaney Park, Washington Gardens and New Haven has also been disrupted by the activities of the two gangs, police said.
The areas recorded 10 murders and 15 shootings up to October this year, while three firearms have been seized by the police.
Yesterday, Superintendent Francis appealed to second tier members of the gangs to turn themselves in to the police in the presence of their attorneys.
“We are willing to work along with you that way, but if you take confrontation to the members of the organisation we will certainly defend ourselves and the life of the people of Jamaica,” he said.
Francis, who noted that there are 10 top major gangs operating in the division, said at least one of the gangs is being directed by an individual who resides in the United States of America.
Despite the activities of the gangs, Superintendent Francis said the division has seen a reduction in murders, when compared to the same period last year.
However, he said the police were still not happy with the level of violence in the division.
Crime figures, up to the end of August this year, showed that murders fell from 60 to 55, when compared to the same period in 2017; shootings dropped from 98 to 82, while robberies increased from 55 to 77 and break-ins jumped from 18 to 32. At the same time 85 illegal guns have been seized in the division between January and October this year.
“We believe that one life is one too much, so we want to have a crime-free society and a crime free division, so we will continue to press on and to take our operational activities to the criminal elements because we know that the people in our division need to live free of crime and free from crime,” the police superintendent said.