Police high command is reporting that members of the Ski Mask gang are responsible for over 20 murders and shootings of residents including women and children in and around the parish of St James.

Police said, for several years, the gang members have been wreaking havoc in the parish and have forced scores of residents to flee their communities by firebombing their homes and sexually assaulting women and children.

Six members from the gang including the leader were shot dead after they engaged police and members of the military in a shootout on Saturday, January 14.

Reports are that on the mentioned date, the driver of a white Toyota Corolla motorcar was signaled to stop. The driver complied and, immediately following, several armed men exited the vehicle, firing at the security team. The lawmen responded; during the confrontation, the six men were fatally shot and one police officer injured.

The men have been identified as: Leader of the Gang; Oswyn Jarret o/c ‘Ski-Mask’; Dino Pryce o/c ‘Buju’; Marlon Samuels o/c ‘Brutus’, and Andre Daley o/c ‘Pops’. The other two men have been identified by their aliases‎ ‘Fargo’ and ‘Shenkay’.

Police said a Ruger P89 9mm pistol, a Mini-Thunder 9mm pistol, a single action Browning Pistol, and a HS 9mm pistol. A number of magazines and a quantity of ammunition were also seized.

The JCF in a release after the incident said it takes no pleasure in the loss of life, and regrets that these six young men were fatally shot.

The police high command however stated that in carrying out their lawful duties to protect the citizens of Jamaica, the security forces are required to stand their ground and defend themselves in the face of criminal attacks.

“The JCF is committed to the apprehension and prosecution of criminal suspects – allowing them to go before a court of law to answer for their acts of criminality. In fact, in 2016 1,436 persons were arrested for breaches of the Firearms Act – 854 for the illegal possession of firearms and 582 for the illegal possession of ammunition,” the release stated.

Police said the incident in St. Andrew on Saturday January 14 strongly underscores this intent of the police. Three armed robbers who invaded a home were successfully apprehended without the use of Force, and will now face the courts for their action.

Had the deceased peacefully surrendered, they would have been arrested, taken into custody, and charged with the illegal possession of firearm and ammunition. Regrettably, they chose to violently confront the security forces, the JCF release stated.

“There is an increasing pattern of violent attacks on the police and military by criminal suspects who, on many occasions, have eluded capture. Unfortunately, on this occasion, those who were emboldened by these previous instances, confronted the security forces and met their demise,” the release outlined.

The release went further to state that while some citizens may feel a sense of relief that these gang members will no longer launch criminal violence on their community, this incident should be a point of reflection for all of us. Many of us have questions to answer for our roles as parents and caregivers in how we treat with our young people, young men in particular

“We urge you to seriously think on the vicious violence youths are unleashing on the very communities from which they hail. These individuals are your kin – brothers, sons, grandsons, nephews, cousins. It is past time to accept our collective responsibility and begin to address the cycle of violence that characterize our communities and families.”