Hunt for cop killer
A massive search is now under way for the main suspect in the killing of 36-year-old Police Constable Jermaine Bennett on Main Street in Gregory Park, St Catherine, on Tuesday.
Head of the St Catherine South Police Division Senior Superintendent Clive Blair on Wednesday told the Jamaica Observer that his detectives and others from the Major Investigation Division are following several leads as they track the killers.
“We are doing the necessary investigation,” Blair said without naming a person of interest. Blair also confirmed that two women taken into custody after the fatal shooting were still being held up to Wednesday afternoon.
But Observer sources later reported that one of the women is believed to be related to the suspected shooter who cannot be named at this time.
Bennett, who was assigned to the Kingston Central Division, but who was based at the Kingston Western zone of special operations for months, was fatally shot about 9:45 pm Tuesday.
Police report that the constable was visiting his child when armed men entered the house and opened gunfire hitting him. Bennett was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
According to Observer sources, Bennett was in the room lying on a bed with his weeks old child when he was shot multiple times. The child was not harmed.
The sources say a number of people were in the yard as a wake was taking place – despite the 8:00 pm start of the nightly curfew – at the back of the premises for an elderly resident who was slated to be buried on Wednesday.
“The man them just open the door and start pepper him. People heard the explosions and they claimed that they saw two men and a woman running from the yard after the shots were fired,” said a source.
“He was found with a magazine for a gun in his pocket, but is when the police came after he was shot they went to his house, which is metres away, and retrieved his firearm. I’m not sure if it was a service pistol or a personal gun,” added the source. This has not been confirmed by the police investigators.
Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang condemned the killing of the cop and described it as an attack on the State.
In expressing condolence to Bennett’s family and his colleagues, Chang urged members of the security forces to “press forward with protecting Jamaicans as they continue to uphold law and order across the island”.
In the meantime, chairman of the Police Federation Corporal Rohan James has called on Jamaica’s legislators to change the laws to make it more difficult for judges to give lenient sentences to people convicted of gun crimes.
“We are very appalled at the blatant attack on our colleague, but while we mourn we are saying to our colleagues to be reminded that our environment is toxic and there are criminals who are intent on attacking us. We must be alert…as we are seen as enemies by the criminals,” said James.
“We are also taking this opportunity to remind our legislators that they need to take a keen look at the plea bargaining arrangement that they have in place and also the Firearms Act, because there is absolutely no doubt…that the gun is one of the most used weapons in Jamaica.
“It cannot be left up to the judiciary to entertain persons who have committed an offence to plead guilty for a gun crime…and because they enter a guilty plea they are given a minimal sentence and then they come back and plague society again. Legislators need to understand that the laws were not enacted to come down to the level of mankind, it is for mankind to rise and abide by the law,” added James.
The police are asking anyone with information that could assist with the investigation into the killing of Constable Bennett to contact the Portmore Criminal Investigation Branch at 876-949-8431, the Major Investigation Division at 876-758-5048, Crime Stop at 311, police 119 emergency number or the nearest police station.