Power of prayer

residents of Denham Town in Kingston believe that prayers from a pastor last week reduced the impact of an early morning gun attack at Wellington Street on Sunday in which one man was shot and injured.

“It was just last week the pastor came and warn us; look what happened now,” one resident told the Jamaica Observer in the community on Sunday.

Another resident confirmed that a preacher had in fact warned them that blood would be spilled in the community, based on a vision he had. The resident believed that if the pastor had not prayed in the space, people would have died.

“Last week the pastor youth prophesied that three men would die on the ‘One a way corner’ and three from the Scream Gang. It was the prayer, that him come pray, mash it up. Me strongly believe that because a whole lot of prediction him mek that I see fulfil,” the resident said.

The Observer sought to get comment from the Kingston West police on the incident, but was unsuccessful.

However, residents said the shooting occurred between 6:00 am and 7:00 am when gunmen in a motor vehicle opened fire on people who were already up and about doing their Sunday morning chores. According to the residents, one man was shot at least three times and was taken to hospital where he is being treated.

Members of the Jamaica Defence Force, who are posted in the community, were said to have challenged the gunmen, but they escaped.

Despite attempts by the security forces and social groups to maintain peace in the community, gang activity and shootings are rampant. From January 1 to September 30 this year, the Kingston West Police Division, which has jurisdiction over Denham Town, reported 61 murders. It is unclear how many of the 61 murders were committed in Denham Town, but residents shared that shootings, even with high-powered rifles, happen from time to time.

During the Observer’s visit to the community a few hours after the incident, tension was obvious and while some residents refused to speak on the shooting, others were adamant that the senseless and spontaneous acts of violence make their lives miserable.

Police yellow tape cordoned off the scene of the attack, which spanned more than 50 metres, beginning just below the Denham Town Health Centre down to North Street.

“I am scared. Nobody wants to get shot or die. I was in my house and I heard a lot of explosions. We believe it was Tivoli man come up inna van come fire shot. Nothing is happening in Denham Town more than Tivoli man dem always come fire shots up here. The man who got shot is not from around here. People know him, but he doesn’t live here,” one female resident said.

“The gunmen were driving in a van and they also fired at police and soldiers. The place is tense. You nuh see how the place look? Overall, certain people can’t go down the road and certain people cannot come up the road. I don’t know what really caused the incident this morning, but overall I just want this war to done because it doesn’t make sense. This war is going on long time. I don’t see what they are warring for. People have to lock up their shops early. The war is mashing up the place,” the frustrated resident added.

Another female resident said things are so bad that even a football competition that was being held to help maintain peace was suspended.

“All the peace football competition with all the different corners stopped because of the violence that start back in the community. A lady came out to empty her rubbish and almost got shot by gunmen who were wearing vests in the black [Toyota] Voxy. There is a turf war going on in the community for a long time now between Denham Town and Tivoli; men want to run the community,” she claimed. “Men up here don’t want back the ‘Dudus’ system. They want to live by themselves without anybody telling them what to do.”

Her reference was to the days when now incarcerated Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher “Dudus” Coke held sway over large swathes of West Kingston.

“This morning after six o’ clock the black Voxy popped up on Wellington Street and Tulip Lane and start lick pure shot. The man got two shots in his back. I am calling for peace, love and unity. The infant school is just right there beside the clinic. People are afraid to go to the Denham Town Health Centre because nobody wants to get shot. We are all in fear. It cannot continue like this,” the angry resident said.

One elderly woman told the Observer that she was awakened by the loud explosions Sunday morning and was so traumatised that she cancelled all plans to venture out on the road.

“From morning I want to go up the road and I am afraid. Too much gunshot and it look like it not going to stop. If the soldiers are not here, I don’t come out on the road. As dem gone, me gone in,” she said.

“The place has to be cleaned up properly. I am not picking any sides — both up the road and down the road need to stop. I am not telling a lie, I’m afraid. You ‘fraid to send all your pickney go to school. You wouldn’t believe the amount a gunshot that wake me up this morning. Lots of people were awakened by gunshots. Oh God, man! What about the people at the Golden Age Home in the community. Dem supposed to traumatised because a pure elder up there. If me get scared, can you imagine them who can’t move up and down,” she said.