Jamaica
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Tragic irony - Councillor Parkins, advocate against killings, falls victim to gun violence

"The adopted culture of Jamaicans, murder."

Ainsley Parkins often wrote these words on his Facebook page whenever he commented on killings that have taken place in the country, particularly in his community of Portmore, St Catherine.

In a tragic turn of events, fate dealt a cruel blow to the Southboro Division's People's National Party (PNP) councillor, when he was fatally attacked in Portmore while seated in his SUV, conducting assessments for a project in his division.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey said that about 9:45 a.m. on Thursday, Parkins was shot multiple times while he sat in his burgundy Toyota Rush.

Close to 30 shell casings were reportedly recovered on the scene by the police.

"A police patrol was in close vicinity and heard the explosions and responded and when they came, they found him slumped in the front of his vehicle leaning towards the passenger's seat," he said.

A police officer who among the first responders on the scene told THE WEEKEND STAR that Parkins' gun was "still holstered and it would seem like they attacked from both sides of his vehicle".

"Based on what I know, he was getting threats," the cop said.

Parkins, who also answered to the name Tyson, said on several occasions that his life was under threat.

Last Sunday, he posted a cryptic note on his Facebook page. It read: "I don't have no time to create enemies, I'm strong and highly confident in what I believe in and people hurt about it."

The tough-talking councillor was consistent in raising his voice against gun violence. In an undated campaign video posted on social media, Parkins said: "I fight against garbage and gunmen -- the two Gs -- and I am fearless in doing that. I don't like to see place dirty and I don't like to see acts of violence against my fellow citizen."

Stunned by the councillor's assassination, residents spoke in hushed tones about the deadly attack. Some speculated that Parkins' death is linked to that of his former rival, Lennox Hines, Jamaica Labour Party councillor-caretaker for the Southboro division, who was shot and killed as he sat in his vehicle along Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston last May.

"War a gwane between Labourite and PNP fi almost a year now, and all type a talk did a make. From Hines dead, man did a send threat to Parkins," one resident said.

A year ago, Parkins denied having anything to do with Hines' death.

"I was told by the police yesterday that based on their intelligence my life is in danger, which is always based on what I stand for, even more with Mr Hines' murder," Parkins said last year.

On Thursday, Bailey told THE WEEKEND STAR that the police have no evidence to link Parkins' murder to that of Hines.

"It is early days and we are not going to make any assumptions. We will do our investigations and we are open in our approach in this investigation," he said.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie, said Parkins' dedication to public service and his commitment to the well-being of his constituents were commendable.

"His service to the community will be remembered, and his contributions to the betterment of Southboro Division are recognised and appreciated," Parkins said. The PNP also said Parkins was an outstanding public servant who dedicated himself to the welfare and progress of his constituents.

"Throughout his tenure, he worked tirelessly to tackle the pressing issues faced by his constituents, and his remarkable achievements have left an indelible mark on the lives of those he served," the PNP said.