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Laventille residents want more police presence

By Valdeen Shears-Neptune

Residents of East Dry River, Laventille, are now running scared in the wake of a recent breakout of gang warfare.

In fact, they are so afraid they will be caught in the crossfire between feuding gangs in the area that many of them are packing up and leaving.

One man, whose car was shot at because he refused to transport a gang member, removed the last of his household items from his home at Richard Lane yesterday.

He refused to give his name, but said moving out of the area was the only way to ensure his family would be safe.

However, residents yesterday called for regular police patrols or a police post in the area.

Where residents of East Dry River were once opposed to police presence, they welcomed it early yesterday morning as officers from the Inter-Agency Task Force and Besson Street CID conducted an exercise.

The raids were carried out at several houses from as early as 4 am, as police sought to capture several suspects linked to a recent murder and two arson attacks in the area.

Police said rival gangs in the Quarry Street and Basilon Street areas were responsible for the recent spate of violence.

Ten people were detained, among them a 23-year-old woman who, police said, were all linked to the feud.

Reports are that following Monday’s shooting death of Garvin Christian, 23, two homes—one on Richard Lane and another on Thomas Street, East Dry River—were firebombed by five masked men.

It is believed the homes were targeted to keep witnesses to the killing silent.

Police said they also believed Christian’s killing was an act of reprisal.

Speaking about the tense situation in her community yesterday, one woman holding a baby said, “We need police up here 24-0 and the people need God and lots of prayers to keep them safe.”

She said she would normally be inside with her doors closed, but she felt safe being in her gallery yesterday only because of heavy police presence.

Another resident (name given) said she was afraid to walk the streets. She, too, was grateful for the police presence.

The woman is the relative of one of the area’s gang leaders and claimed her relative had been trying to change his life when the feuding began.

“We had just moved here and put on burglar proof on the house so that bandits wouldn’t break in and preparing to spend a peaceful Christmas and then this start,” she said.

On Thursday, one of her young male relatives was shot in the leg at Quarry Street.

She said she believed the incident was linked to the gang warfare.

The relative, she said, was warded at hospital.

The scared woman said, she, like many others, are making plans to leave the area.

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