Tuesday 21 October 2014

Eight arrested in probe into fatal shooting of schoolgirl on holiday in Jamaica

Published 14/01/2013 | 10:52

EIGHT suspects have been arrested over the fatal shooting of an eight-year-old British girl on holiday in Jamaica.

Imani Green was killed when a gunman opened fire at her cousin's shop in the rural village of Duncans on Friday.

Three of her relatives are recovering in hospital after they were wounded in the hail of bullets.

Police believe the killing could have been a revenge attack by gangsters on the Caribbean island.

Imani, who suffered from the blood condition sickle cell anaemia, is not believed to have been the target.

Deputy Superintendent Steve Brown, from the Jamaica Constabulary Force, said eight suspects were being questioned.

He has dismissed suggestions linking the shooting to gang warfare.

"Over the last 24 hours there have been some developments where the police have taken eight persons into custody and we're confident we will make a breakthrough on this one very soon," he said.

"We've heard about gang warfare but we find it a bit difficult to believe because where the incident took place it is a sleepy community, nothing happens there. This is just an isolated incident but it could well link to a number of things and we are looking at all possibilities and following all the leads that we are getting."

Imani, from Balham in south London, was shot twice in Friday's attack - once in the head and once in the shoulder.

She had been given extended leave from Fircroft Primary School in Tooting to visit Jamaica and take advantage of the warmer climate.

She was attending a local primary school while on the island and had been due to return to the UK on January 25.

Her grandmother Sandra Fisher said she found Imani lying in a "pool of blood" after she asked to visit the grocery shop in the quiet Red Dirt district of Duncans in Trelawny parish.

Imani's sister, Janella Parmer, said: "We heard gunshots. We ran outside and shouted 'Imani, Imani, Imani'.

"I picked her up off the ground and realised she was still breathing. I flagged down a car and they drove us to hospital. The rest is history."

The high command of Jamaica's police force said Imani was "mercilessly slaughtered in front of family members in a hail of bullets as gangsters sought to exact revenge on their rivals".

The island's government said police were conducting an "extensive investigation into the matter and will expend every effort to ensure that the perpetrator is apprehended and brought to justice".

Neighbours in Britain have spoken of their sorrow following the killing.

Relatives were said to have left their home at Old Hospital Close for a flight to Jamaica early yesterday morning to be with Imani's mother.

Police are now waiting to interview family members injured in the attack to establish the identity of the gunman.

It has been suggested Imani might have been the victim of a feud over an illegal lottery scam, the attack being a reprisal for a shooting last year.

The racket, which reportedly involves duping Americans into believing they have scooped the lottery and asking them to wire an "advance fee" to collect their winnings, has been linked to more than 500 murders over the past five years.

Anne Wilson, headteacher at Fircroft Primary School, said Imani "coped very well" with her condition which forced her to stay indoors at play time to avoid getting cold.



The school granted her permission to spend time in Jamaica because the warmth was known to be better for her health.



"We felt it was in Imani's best interest to be there rather than here at this time," Mrs Wilson told Sky News.



A special assembly was held this morning at the school where a prayer were read for the little girl and her family.



Staff and children are now being offered counselling.



"Today and for the next few days and weeks it's going to be difficult for them but we're here to support them," Mrs Wilson added.



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