“Regrettable that there has been so much loss of life,” Montague told the Jamaica Observer newspaper in an interview, noting that on more than one occasion the police had confronted the gangsters in the Barrett Town area but did not return fire because they were in close quarters to residents.
“However, if a criminal points a gun at the police, the police will use the appropriate force to repel the threat. I therefore want to urge all Jamaicans, especially the…criminals…do not point a gun on my police.”
He said the police have been taught to respect everybody’s rights, but that the criminal “must know that if they point a gun at the police, the police have been trained to use the appropriate force to repel that threat on behalf of the State”.
In a statement, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) said that last Saturday night law enforcement officials had sought to stop a vehicle carrying members of the feared Ski Masked Gang.
It said that while the vehicle came to a halt, the occupants exited and fired at the security forces. The fire was returned, and when the shooting subsided the six were found with gunshot wounds. They were taken to hospital where they were pronounced dead.
Police identified them as Oswyn Jarrett, alias Ski-Mask, who is said to be the leader of the gang; Dino Pryce, Marlon Samuels, Andre Daley,and two other men who have been identified by their aliases Fargo and Shenkay.
“This gang has terrorised the residents of Barrett Town and neighbouring communities for several years. They are responsible for over 20 murders and shootings of citizens to include women and children,” the police said in the statement.
It said that the men were also responsible for fire-bombing homes and sexually assaulting women and children, forcing scores of residents to flee the community.
The JCF said had the men surrendered, “they would have been arrested, taken into custody, and charged with illegal possession of firearm and ammunition.
“Regrettably, they chose to violently confront the security forces,” the JCF said, noting that there is an increasing pattern of violent attacks on the security forces by criminal suspects, many of whom have escaped capture.
“Unfortunately, on this occasion, those who were emboldened by these previous instances confronted the security forces and met their demise,” the police said, noting that they had recovered a quantity of guns and ammunition.
“We again instruct suspects and wanted persons to desist from violent confrontation with the police, and instead to peacefully turn themselves in, with the assistance of family, clergy or their attorney,” the JCF said, adding it is “committed to the apprehension and prosecution of criminal suspects, allowing them to go before a court of law to answer for their acts of criminality”.
The shootout is now the subject of an investigation by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) and the Bureau of Special Investigations.
Montague said that over the last two quarters, more than 80 per cent of the cases investigated by INDECOM showed that the police acted within the boundaries of the law.
He said that of the 70 cases investigated by INDECOM in the last quarter, 65 resulted in no charges being filed against the police.
The JCF said in 2016, a total of 1,436 individuals were arrested for breaches of the Firearms Act, 854 for illegal possession of firearm, and 582 for the illegal possession of ammunition.
- Countries: Jamaica
- JAMAICA | Montague must be Sanctioned for Misleading the Jamaican People says PNP
- JAMAICA | PNP seeks legal advice on approval of 29 gun licences by Montague
- JAMAICA | Former Minister challenges Prime Minister over gun licence claims
- JAMAICA | PNP disturbed over Montague's decision to issue certain firearm licences
- JAMAICA | Holness shifts Chang to Security, Dr. Nigel Clarke new Finance Minister in Cabinet shuffle