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Security measures have been implemented at the Trelawny Parish Council Municipal Building in Falmouth in the wake of the theft of a licensed semi-automatic pistol belonging to Falmouth Mayor Garth Wilkinson.
The weapon containing several rounds of ammunition was reported stolen from the mayor’s parlour on November 13.
One man has since been arrested and charged in connection with the theft of the weapon, after he allegedly fired at a Falmouth resident, held up another, and engaged the police in a shoot-out, in separate incidents, days after the weapon went missing.
He has been identified as 28-year-old Okello ‘Finny’ Browning of a Market Street address in Falmouth.
According to Superintendent Wilford Campbell, commanding officer in charge of the Trelawny Police, Browning, who is unemployed, has been charged with two counts of shooting with intent, larceny and assault.
In the shooting incident involving the cops, Superintendent Campbell told the Jamaica Observer that Browning was shot by the police on November 24 during a shoot-out at a house in Falmouth.
“Information had led the police to a house where he [Browning] was staying and when the police went there, he fired at them, the police returned the fire, and he was subsequently shot and wounded. He, however, managed to escape,” Campbell explained.
He added that the following day, Browning turned up at hospital for treatment, and the police were alerted.
“The information that we got from him led us to the recovery of the missing firearm, and he was subsequently arrested and charged,” said the superintendent.
Browning is scheduled to reappear in the Western Regional Gun Court on Tuesday to answer to the charges, after making his first appearance on December 5, at which time he was remanded into custody.
Since the theft of the weapon, the Trelawny Parish Council has been busy installing a number of safety features at the municipal building, located on the periphery of Water Square, Falmouth, in a bid to control access to the facility, which also houses the Falmouth Courthouse.
“What we’re doing is putting a buzzer on the doors of the main entrance coming into the courthouse,” Mayor Wilkinson told the Sunday Observer yesterday. “It’s something for the court upstairs, which is very important.”
He also said that more police are being placed at the entrance to the building, especially for the Christmas holiday.
However, he lamented that he had, for at least two years, been asking for cops from the former Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF) to be placed on duty at the building, but his requests had not been approved.
“In St James and other places they used to have the Island Special Constabulary Force placed at the entrances to the courts, but we have never had the privilege and the Jamaica Constabulary Force has said that there has never been any request from us, and they have no control over the ISCF. Now, since both forces have been joined, it has become almost impossible for us to get that and I don’t know what will happen going forward,” the mayor said.
“They even gave us the name of a man for the secretary manager to write to; I can’t even remember his name,” he said and asked the Sunday Observer to speak with the secretary manager, Winston Palmer.
However, calls to Palmer’s phone went to voicemail and up to press time he did not respond to our request to return the calls.
In the meantime, Superintendent Campbell told the Sunday Observer that investigations are now underway to determine the circumstances under which the mayor’s gun was stolen.
“The investigations are ongoing to find out exactly how the mayor lost his gun,” said Campbell, when asked by the Sunday Observer if Mayor Wilkinson is likely to be cited for negligence.
The mayor, Superintendent Campbell said, had reported that the gun was “seen in his parlour at about 9:00 am on November 13, and he would have discovered it missing 12 hours after”.
Sources close to the Trelawny Parish Council, however, told the Sunday Observer that the mayor had been out of his office for several hours, attending a function, on the day the firearm went missing.
“When he came back from the function at about 7:00 pm — which was being held a little distance from his office — he discovered that the gun was missing,” said an employee at the local authority.
Meanwhile, Superintendent Campbell is urging licensed firearm holders to take the necessary precautions in an effort to ensure that their weapons do not fall into the wrong hands.
“They must ensure that the weapons are in their possession at all times,” he stressed.
Mayor maybe guilty of failure to safe guard a weapon !
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