BUSINESSMAN Keith Clarke was yesterday shot dead as members of the security forces stormed his Kirkland Heights, Red Hills, community in Upper St Andrew in search of alleged drug lord Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke.
Clarke, 63, is the brother of former People’s National Party Government minister Claude Clarke.
According to the police, Clarke was killed during a joint police/military operation in which four Jamaica Defence Force soldiers were shot and injured.
“A joint police/military operation was conducted in Kirkland Heights, Red Hills, St Andrew at approximately 2:45 am on Thursday 27 May 2010. Four members of the Jamaica Defence Force were shot and injured and one civilian killed. One firearm was recovered during the incident,” the Constabulary Communication Network said in a brief statement.
But yesterday angry relatives, who have called for a full investigation into Clarke’s death, said the weapon that was found was licensed to the businessman.
“We are horrified and shocked by the dangerous, unprofessional and outrageous conduct of the security forces in an operation this morning in Kirkland Heights where Keith Clarke was murdered by officers sworn to uphold the law, who forcibly invaded his home and killed him in front of his wife and daughter. The attack was unjustified,” relatives said in a statement.
“We expect there to be a complete, full and thorough investigation into this matter and for the officers involved to be held accountable,” they added.
Residents of Kirkland Heights said they were awakened by loud explosions minutes to three yesterday morning.
“We heard gunshots for over two hours. Even helicopters were involved in the operation where more than one bus load of soldiers came into the community,” one resident told the Observer, adding that after an hour of what sounded like a “war”, Clarke was found dead.
“We heard that it was an operation to capture Coke, who is believed to have been in the area, but they shot and killed the wrong person,” said another resident.
The shooting angered Carolyn Gomes, executive director of human rights group Jamaicans For Justice, who visited the scene.
“This is wrong; this cannot be allowed to happen,” she said and called for the law enforcement agents to be more professional in their approach.
After three days of gun battles with gunmen loyal to Coke, he still remains at large.
Coke is wanted by the United States to face gun- and drug-trafficking charges