The terror of guns and internal gang warfare tore through Jamaica's Old Capital Tuesday afternoon, prompting the imposition of a 48-hour curfew after at least three men were killed in related incidents in Spanish Town, St Catherine.
It's the “continuation” of a feud involving gangsters from the One Order clan, confirmed Senior Superintendent of Police Stephanie Lindsay, referring to one of the main criminal organisations operating out of the parish.
Shuttered businesses and fleeing shoppers and higglers were among the chaotic scenes when the first shots rang out in the market district.
“It was living hell,” said one resident who witnessed the attack.
“I was walking to the market when I heard shots start to fire and people started to run all over the place. Mi run and hide behind a car until it stop and then mi see some people lying in the road bleeding,” the resident added.
That graphic scene was the first of two incidents in which several alleged gang members were reportedly shot by members of a breakaway faction. Two persons died, including a known member of the gang.
The gunmen then travelled to Job Lane in the vicinity of the train line where they opened fire on a 19-year-old man who is now battling for life in hospital.
In a related shooting, the police killed one suspected member of the gang in front of a car wash at the corner of William and French streets and seized a firearm.
Residents mounted roadblocks in various communities – including Tawes Pen which was the recent scene of a quadruple murder, to prevent the gunmen from spreading their torment. Members of the Jamaica Defence Force were able to clear some of the barricades.
The pandemonium created by the gunmen forced several businesses to close their doors and residents retreated to their homes.
And while the police were busy searching for the gunmen and clearing the roadblocks, word came that the court administrative office was ablaze.
The fire, which started about 4:40 p.m., destroyed a section of the roof of the building that houses the court's administrative offices and the municipal corporation's revenue services office.
Firefighters say they were able to prevent the blaze from destroying sensitive court documents as well as municipal corporation files.
Three units – two from Spanish Town and one from Portmore – fought the blaze.
Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson visited the scene at nightfall and met with Parish Judge Tracey Ann Johnson.
Normal operations are expected to resume at the court office on Wednesday, one of the busiest days of the judicial week.