VIDEO: Commish addresses concerns about response to May Pen robbery
The police say they have recovered a shotgun, three M16 magazines, a 9mm magazine and close to $500,000 from criminals who staged a daring robbery and shot two police officers at a supermarket at Guinep Tree in May Pen, Clarendon on Sunday morning.
The Police High Command, in a release on Monday, said after criminals engaged law enforcement officers in a more than 15-minute standoff, the criminals used a group of workers from the business establishment as human shields to escape from the location.
Reports are that even though the men were heavily armed, a small team of police officers who were in the area, bravely intervened and took on the criminals in a gunfight.
Two of the officers were shot and injured during the standoff.
The injured officers were taken to hospital for treatment. One remains in serious condition, while the other was treated and released.
Reports from the May Pen police are that about 9:30 a.m., officers were approaching the supermarket when they were suddenly engaged in a confrontation with gunmen.
Information from the Corporate Communications Unit (CCU), the police’s information arm, is that the gunmen, in a bid to escape the shooting scene, used the workers and later the operator of the supermarket as shields, and eventually made their escape in three motorcars, one of which was stolen from the scene of the robbery.
Police said two of the vehicles were later intercepted, and the gunmen abandoned the vehicles. The following items were recovered:
A Remington shotgun
Three M16 magazines
A 9mm magazine
The gunmen were said to have escaped with the following items:
Over $3 million
An i-phone 10 cellular phone valued at $130,000
An i-phone 6 cellular phone valued at $80,000
Police did not issue any further report about the other persons who were held by the gunmen.
The Police High Command has since extended commendation to the police officers who responded to the sudden development.
The high command has also sought to address concerns raised by at least two local security experts about how the police team responded to the incident.
One of the experts, who did not wish to be named, said it was disappointing how the law enforcers responded to the development, based on a video of the incident that is now circulating on social media showing the gunmen taking on members of the police team for close to 10 minutes without adequate back-up arriving to surround and capture the criminals.
An edited version of the video is carried below.
But while security personnel raised questions, Police Commissioner, Major General Antony Anderson, said there were a number of factors that the police had to take into consideration while responding to the incident.
“I hear the concerns of citizens regarding the police’s weaponry and their response to this Incident,” indicated Anderson before giving some insight about the factors which he said inhibited the efforts to capture the criminals.
“The first officers on the scene were regular beat patrol officers, and the preservation of the lives of the hostages, who were used as human shields by the gunmen, was of top priority,” said the commissioner.
"These first responders were subsequently supported by other police, including one who used his personal vehicle to block the suspects, and their (the police’s) collective response caused the gunmen to abandon two vehicles, leading to the release of a hostage and the recovery of some of the stolen money,” added Anderson.
The CCU said the police are imploring business operators to install panic alarm systems at their establishments and to use reputable security companies to pick up and secure cash for lodgements.
The police said anyone who may be able to assist in the investigation is being asked to contact the May Pen police at 876-986-2208, the police 119 emergency number, Crime Stop at 311, or the nearest police station.