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A sad day in Portmore

Speculation continued into last night as political stakeholders and residents of Portmore, St Catherine, struggled to come to terms with the murder of an elected local government councillor attached to the People’s National Party.

Ainsley Parkins, who was serving the Southboro division and was known to his constituents as ‘Tyson’, was attacked about 9:45 a.m. yesterday, reportedly by an armed man, in the heart of his municipal division while carrying out his political responsibilities.

Portmore Mayor Leon Thomas described Parkins as a very good councillor who looked out for his people.

“It is a sad day for his family, a sad day for Portmore, and a sad day for Jamaica. He was in the area with summer workers to capture some data when he was attacked,” Thomas said.

Fitz Bailey, assistant commissioner of police in charge of the crime and security portfolio in the Jamaica Constabulary Force, who was early on the scene, said Parkins was seen in the driver’s seat slumped over to the passenger side when police who were nearby arrived on the scene.

“Based on our assessment, the shooter or shooters were very close to him, but we have no further information regarding how it happened,” Bailey said.

He said a high-level team had been assembled to lead the investigation, which has already started.

However, a resident in the community who requested anonymity, told The Gleaner that there were some persons in the division who were dissatisfied with how the councillor went about distributing work.

“Well, all mi know is that some people in the division sey the councillor a diss them because him nuh want fi give them no work and them vex about it,” said the resident who claimed to be a supporter of the deceased councillor.

“I don’t have a problem with Tyson, but some of the people them sey dem nuh like how him roll, and dem nuh hide and chat, but mi never know sey him woulda dead inna him stronghold.”

The police have dismissed suggestions that Parkins’ death could be connected to last year’s killing of Jamaica Labour Party caretaker councillor for the Southboro division, Lennox Hinds. They say they have not seen a link between the two murders.

Hinds was attacked by gunmen while working in the division in May of last year.

Meanwhile, Mikael Phillips, vice-president of the PNP, who was on the scene, described the killing of the councillor as a watershed moment.

“It is really a sad day. He was not only a colleague, but a friend. This reminds me that crime is still a major problem even though we have a reduction in murders,” said Phillips, who declared that the time has come for Jamaica to request international help.

He said the police were trying but were stretched, not having enough manpower or vehicles to handle the levels of crime in the country.

Fitz Jackson, St Catherine South member of Parliament, was emotional when he spoke about the love Parkins had for his job as a councillor.

“He has worked tirelessly, not just as a political representative, but as a community leader in Portmore. Over the years, he has coined himself as a local-government practitioner,” Jackson said.

He also described the deceased councillor as fearless and as an individual who believed that he had an obligation to do what was best for his people.