Monday 16 September, 2019

Brazen May Pen heist triggers questions about militia probe last year

A screen grab from a video of rogue militia activities in a north Clarendon town last November.

A screen grab from a video of rogue militia activities in a north Clarendon town last November.

Six months after police said they launched a probe into claims made by residents of a town in north Clarendon that heavily armed men were travelling around in full military gear committing break-ins and robberies in and around the parish, residents say they are yet to hear what has resulted from the probe.

“Several months ago, questions were raised about the mentioned group, and to this day nothing has come of that investigation. We want to know what the findings were,” a resident asked during an interview with Loop News.

The male resident said he was prompted to make queries about the investigation after the latest incident in the parish, where a group of heavily armed men stormed into a supermarket last Sunday morning and later engaged police personnel in a brazen gun battle before escaping with over $3 million in cash. The latest development has left concerned residents asking questions, including whether there was any connection between the two incidents.

“Based on what we saw with even the robbery in Clarendon (on Sunday), those men who shot and injured the two police officers, moved as if they were trained, and were part of a militia group,” cited one resident.

Interestingly too, one of the cars that the robbers abandoned while being pursued by the police on Sunday, was seemingly headed for North Clarendon, as Howard Avenue in May Pen, where the vehicle was ditched, is a main off-shoot from May Pen into the rugged, hilly terrain of the northern section of the parish.

One of the Probox motorcars that were used as getaway vehicles by the robbers in May Pen, Clarendon on Sunday, was intercepted by the police and abandoned by its occupants on Howard Avenue, a major off-shoot into the hills of north Clarendon.

Not surprisingly, all the residents who spoke with Loop News on the matter asked not to be named out of fear for their lives.

But while some of the residents believe that there could be a link between the two scenarios, a senior police officer from the parish rubbished the theory as mere speculation.

“As a person in law enforcement, we cannot just speculate to say the group (that was) seen in Clarendon during the supermarket robbery was linked with the groups that were seen in video footage last year,” said the officer.

But his own theory or analysis did not appear to be on a very sound footing.

“It could be very well a case of a group of criminals watching footage of incidents such as the one last year, and trying to copy what they saw,” added the lawman.

He said, “with the absence of evidence, it is hard to make any form of determination (on the matter”.

But the residents are not buying anything but clarity on the results of the probe into last year’s mystery militia incidents.

“Based on what is happening, we want to hear what has happened to those investigations, especially based on the fact that some citizens from within the parish were able to provide video evidence showing those men (in the militia group) at work,” one resident said in an interview.

Last November, the Police High Command said it had launched a high-level probe into claims that heavily armed men travelling around in full military gear were committing a number of break-ins and other robberies in the north Clarendon town and its environs.

The claims from a number of separate persons living in and around the town triggered the national probe because of the very alarming nature of the allegations that were backed up by disturbing video evidence.

Angry, frustrated and afraid, the residents of the town said they did their own investigations into the ‘mystery criminals’, and their findings left them even more concerned and afraid, something which was compounded by the viral exposure of the violent robbery, shootout and hostage taking in May Pen on Sunday.

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