Soldiers shot in St James gunbattle - Army vows to hunt down gangsters

The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) has vowed to hunt down and flush out the gangsters who ambushed a police-military patrol and shot and injured two soldiers in the Richmond Hill section of Cambridge in St James yesterday.

Shortly after 10:15 a.m., the police-military team - which was in the area searching for top-flight gangster Delano 'Prekeh' Wilmot, who is wanted for several murders - was attacked by the gang leader and his cronies.

"We will continue to support the police during the ongoing enhanced security measures in St James," said Major Basil Jarrett, the civil-military cooperation officer at the JDF. "As for Wilmot and his gang, our team will not stop until we flush them out. He and his cronies will be brought to justice like any other ordinary criminals."

According to a well-placed police source, Wilmot was an integral part of the notorious Ratty Gang, which had Cambridge under siege prior to the imposition of the state of public emergency in St James earlier this year.

The gang fled the community after coming under significant pressure from the security forces. The leader of the gang, Ryan 'Ratty' Peterkin, who was known to regularly engage the police in gun-fights, was killed in a shootout with a police-military team in Westmoreland.

AT THEIR MERCY

"These men (the gangsters) are driving fear into all of us. We are literally at their mercy," a resident of Richmond Hill told The Gleaner yesterday. "They rob and intimidate residents daily. I hope that now they have shot those two soldiers, the authorities will get serious about hunting them down and bringing them to justice."

In describing the incident yesterday, Jarrett said that the patrol was on duty in and around the Cambridge community when they were attacked by the gangsters, who chose to engage them instead of running away.

"On reaching the area, the men came under heavy gunfire," said Jarrett. "Two soldiers were hit and taken to hospital just for precaution. Their injuries are not life threatening."

Subsequent to the incident, additional soldiers and police were deployed to the area. JDF helicopters provided aerial support, while a tactical team combed bushes in the community for the men. Several men have also been taken into custody for questioning.


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