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Security guard shot dead; call for JamaicaEye in Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — Councillor for the Santa Cruz Division Christopher Williams is urging the Government to step up its pace and investment in the national closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance system, JamaicaEye, in this south-central town, following yesterday’s attempted robbery and shoot-out in which a Guardsman security guard was killed and two others injured.

The deceased has been identified as 50-year-old Anthony Endem.

“Government will have to move quickly. I know that moves have been made. Work has started for the implementation of JamaicaEye in the town of Santa Cruz. I think that will assist somewhat in fighting crime. Technology will have to play a role, and I think they have to move speedily with that aspect of things,” Williams told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

JamaicaEye, launched in 2018, is part of an islandwide network of camera surveillance systems designed to increase the safety of citizens.

The Western Union outlet located on Main Street in Santa Cruz, where yesterday’s fatal shooting took place, has been targeted in recent years by gunmen.

Police reported that about 8:15 am the three guards were in the process of delivering cash at the remittance outlet when three gunmen pounced, and during the attempted robbery a shoot-out ensued between the gunmen and the guards.

The gunmen fled the scene in a motor car. No money was taken, and all guards’ firearms were secured.

The injured guards were taken to hospital where Endem died while undergoing treatment and the other two guards treated and released.

A police report said gunmen waylaid the security team in the vicinity of the remittance outlet.

One man, who was just a few metres away from yesterday morning’s shoot-out between security guards and gunmen, scoffed when asked how many shots were fired.

“Dem cyaan count,” he said, “it mus’ be more than 30 shot.” He surmised from the sounds that most of the shots were from “pistols” on “automatic”.

Born in West Kingston in 1980, but resident in St Elizabeth since he was five years old, the eyewitness, who declined to be identified, said he grew up hearing horror stories about gun battles involving politically tribalised gangs in the 1970s and 80s. So when the shooting started, his first thought was, “It come een like me deh a Tivoli…”

Fright gave him wings and he quickly found a hiding place.

Just before the shooting started, the eyewitness said he noticed a Guardsman van pull up — as usual in the mornings — close to the sidewalk in front of the Western Union outlet. He theorised that the attackers must have been waiting.

When the shooting stopped, he saw one man, whom he presumed to be one of the criminals, walking away with a gun in his hand. He described the man as looking “official”, in a white shirt, black pants, and white hat. “The man almost look like one of the security guard, but him wasn’t…” he said.

Yvonne, an office worker, had walked past the scene just a few minutes before and was settling down at her workplace across the road when the shooting started. “Pi, pi, pi, pi, pow, pow, pow… mi nevah hear nuttin like that before,” she told the Observer.

Like many others in Santa Cruz, who have grown weary of hold-ups and attempted hold-ups in recent years, the male eyewitness called for a coordinated anti-crime camera surveillance system.

“Santa Cruz needs some camera right around the town to help [police] catch criminals,” he said.

— Additional reporting by Garfield Myers

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