Newsmaker… Week: Perspectives on killings of 3 taxi men in one day | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News | Loop News

This week’s featured development as Newsmaker of the Week just ended is general outlook on the shooting deaths of three taxi operators in separate incidents, two in Portmore, St Catherine, and the other in the Corporate Area, last Wednesday.

Despite efforts by the security forces to curtail violent crimes across the country, over 400 Jamaicans have been killed so far this year, though the murder figures generally remain below last year’s numbers.

Yet, the killings remain barbaric in nature, as seen with the murders of the three taxi operators that evoked a range of discussions on the possible motives behind the criminal acts.

The deceased are Kadeen Jones, 37, who was killed by unknown assailant(s) while standing on Granville Road in his Portmore community; 43-year-old Mark Perry of a Southborough, Portmore address, who was killed in Independence City by a pillion rider from a motorcycle.

Also killed on Wednesday was 32-year-old Jason McCauseland of Bronx Close, Spanish Town in St Catherine, who was shot dead on Studio One Boulevard in the Corporate Area.

Though the police have refrained from giving any motive or motives for the public killings of the transport operators, speculation remains rife as to the factors that were behind the violent attacks.

One theory being peddled by social media users is that extortionists could be using the murders to send an ominous warning to transport operators, while others contended that it could be an act of reprisal, as some transport operators are believed to be members of the criminal underworld.

Amid those views on social media, President of the Transport Operators’ Development Sustainable Services (TODSS), Egeton Newman, described the violent attacks against taxi operators as “getting from bad to worse”.

In the first incident involving Perry was at the intersection of Passage Fort Drive and Independence City at about 9:15 am on Wednesday, armed men drove up on a motorcycle.

The pillion rider got off the cycle and opened gunfire at Perry before the men escaped from the scene.

Perry was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The second fatal shooting incident occurred in Waterford just hours after Perry’s killing, and resulted in Jones’ death. The latter was reportedly standing on Granville Road in his Portmore community, when he was shot dead by unknown assailant(s).

In reacting to Perry’s murder on Wednesday, Newman condemned the shooting.

“This is the 17th transport operator who has either got shot, killed, or abducted since the start of the year. This is serious and the Government doesn’t recognise us, and we are seen as easy prey by criminal elements,” said Newman.

Egeton Newman

He said it was the third shooting incident involving a taxi operator within three weeks. That number has since moved to five with Jones and McCauseland’s killings later on Wednesday.

Reports from the police are that two men on a motorcycle drove up at about 8:10 pm, and the pillion rider opened fire at McCauseland.

The police were summoned and the victim he was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Newman had earlier said there were 39 deaths in the transport sector from violent incidents last year.

With the spate of killings this week affecting the transport sector, Newman encouraged taxi operators to “watch your space”.

Further, he share that, “What I am saying to transport operators on a whole, is to observe who they are carrying and their surroundings.

“Don’t rush for passengers, but look out for what is happening around you,” he added.

The TODSS president also warned taxi operators to keep an eye out for gunmen who are now using motorcycles to carry out their heinous crimes.

Newman also made a call for the Government to establish better parking facilities, which he said should be retrofitted with police posts, for taxi operators locally. This, he claimed, would help to ensure the safety of the transport operators.

In weighing in on the three killings of taxi operators this week, social media users made the usual calls as with any surge in crime, for the Government to do more to contain the crime monster.

However, the Government’s use of its main crime-fighting tool, the states of emergency (SOE), is yet to be decided by the Court of Appeal, which is to decide whether its continued use is unconstitutional, as has been being posited by those opposing the use of the security measure, and was ruled as such by a single High Court judge.

Still, the Government and the security forces were being called upon to act more strategically, despite the police force being adamant that its thrust to get guns, gangs and wanted men, as well as its social media campaign, have been reaping success.

A Facebook user calling for the state to act now was Christopher Isaacs. He opined that, “Apparently the criminals have not met their target, and are hastily upping the numbers of murders and shootings. The authorities too… have not decided to… enhance existing security measures.

“It’s disheartening to read of regular idiotic and multiple killings. Our sixtyate (60th) year of Independence is coming up and there is no way that a celebration will be able to take place under this murderous mayhem,” he continued.

“The Government and the police need to get desperate and act accordingly to cauterise this. There is simply a need for more police and policing. We all know that it takes time to recruit, there we need to do the next best thing. Go to the private (security force) for help. Have them allow members of their security forces to join the local constabulary and saturate the streets,” Isaacs wrote.

A typical major taxi parking environment in Jamaica.

“Clearly crime and criminality strive where there’s an absence of the police and soldiers.”

In analysing the state of the island’s public transport sector, especially in relation to taxi operators and the murders of three of their members this week, Audrey Phillip’s noted that, “Driving a taxi comes with some serious risks, and many drivers experience some form of assault or robbery on the job.”

Continuing, the Facebook user said: “It is one of the risky jobs that we often overlook and the dangers that taxi drivers are exposed to on a daily basis, especially in this hostile and dangerous environment.”

It is against that background why Phillips said it is “very important” for drivers to learn and understand basic safety tips on how to prevent robbery and acts of violence.

“While some customers might be aggressive or use provocative language, it’s best to not engage them, if possible,” she advised.

“Taxi drivers should not chase after fare evaders, should not resist a robbery, should let robbers take their money, should not accept passengers who cannot provide a destination, should notify the dispatcher or another driver immediately if passengers change destinations once they’re in the taxi, and if driving to certain areas that (make the drivers) feel potentially unsafe.

“Driving a taxi today is a big, big risk. We often criticise them, but taxi drivers are some of our unsung heroes who we often overlook,” Phillips declared.

But not all Facebook users agreed with the kind words that were being directed t0 the island’s transport operators in general.

Man InThe Hillz wrote: “A few taxi men ah undercover gunman, (and/or) getaway drivers and murderers too. Condolences, however.”

Shanzii Gordon, in agreeing with that sentiment, shared that, “A lot of taxi men are gunmen or associated with gunmen, and that’s fact. Nothing about being preyed on, they are just easier targets to get to.”

United Portmore ventured down the same route, commenting that: “Nuff taxi man a criminal an(d) gunman, them mix up in a nuff wrongdoings, suh u never can tell.”

Amid that theory, Facebook user, RichBoss Clemmings, called for taxi operators to be armed.

“Taxi man should get guns too,” he commented.

However, Adrian Watson, another social media user, disagreed with that suggestion.

In stating his position, Watson said, “That won’t help if they even get a gun, bcuz (because) sometimes you dnt kno who’s gonna shoot you, it’s a case of who squeeze the trigger first.”

Likewise, Kayon McGregor disagreed with Clemmings’ view.

“Rich Boss Clemmings, you have got to be kidding. A lot a taxi men are hardcore murderers,” she wrote without providing any evidence or basis to back her statement.

Meanwhile, speculation was also rife as to whether extortion could have been a possible motive for the three homicides in a day involving taxi drivers.

On Twitter, @SmittyRoyal, in reacting to the killings of the two taxi drivers in Portmore on Wednesday, said: “Sounds like the makings of an extortion racket being formed in Portmore”.

In a follow-up tweet, he elaborated that, “Usually when you see attacks on taxi men so frequent it’s to send a message that the extortionist serious. That’s how Klans (Clansman gang) used to operate. One Order too.”

Facebook user, Worldboss Jayseon, made a similar remark in commenting that,

“Maybe (they) not paying extortion fees”.

Meantime, other individuals made a rallying cry for a ban on motorcycles, some of which are being used gunmen to commit murders.

“They need to ban these murderous bike killings in Jamaica! Getting away on them to(o) easy,” wrote Pam Pinnock.

Shared Doug Dillion wrote: “These dam(n) motorcycles again. When is the police going to take the streets back from these criminals?”

However, Facebook user, Ning Ming, contended that there is little the police can do to generally solve murders like those involving the slain taxi operators.

“We talk about what the police is doing about theses killings? The real question is what can the police do? A taxi man picks up a passenger along his route or at a taxi stand not, knowing (h)is intention. What can the police actually do in these situations? Absolutely nothing,” he reasoned.

He added: “Only way I see it is that these taxi men pray before and after going to work, and ask the one and true God to guide them. It’s such a sad state we living in.”

Another social media user, Maria Hill, said both taxi and bus operators “need to have a hidden camera in their vehicles”.

Twitter user, @Laris23turnable, was more concerned about the impact of the killings on the commuters, especially those who travel late at nights in rural areas.

“This seems to be an attack on our taxi men. This can’t be right. In ‘country’, we can’t even get taxi to go home after certain hours. These killings make it worse now. We really need divine intervention,” she wrote.

A similar sentiment was expressed by Instagram user, jayskybambino, who commented: “Country taxi man dem stop run late ah night enuh, ’cause a dem ting yah.

“Sorry fi who work late now enuh, dem might have to invest in a vehicle now. Sticky situation, but can’t blame taxi man dem,” he declared.