KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Some people have been questioned in the fatal shooting of an 8-year-old British girl visiting relatives in a rural Jamaican village, but no one has been arrested in the high-profile case, police officials said Monday.
Assistant Police Commissioner Devon Watkis, the top police commander for four parishes in northern and western Jamaica, said that "a number of people" had been temporarily detained for interviews about the killing. He didn't disclose how many but stressed that nobody had been charged.
"Since this involves the killing of a small child there's even a little bit more vigor in our investigations and we are mobilizing all our resources," Watkis told The Associated Press. "But there have been no arrests yet."
Earlier Monday, British media said eight people were arrested for the shooting attack Imani Green, a schoolgirl from the Balham district of south London. But Watkis, police spokesman Karl Angell and other officials confirmed later that arrests had proved elusive three days after the killing.
Imani was mortally wounded when a lone gunman opened fire Friday night on a group of her family members as they gathered at a relative's roadside shop in the normally sleepy Red Dirt district of the village of Duncans in Trelawny parish. Three adult relatives were wounded and were reported in stable condition.
Imani arrived with her mother and older sister shortly after Christmas to visit relatives in Jamaica. The child suffered from sickle cell anemia and received authorization from her south London primary school to visit Jamaica until the end of the month in hopes that the sunny weather would help her condition.
She was apparently sitting on a stool inside the tiny clapboard general store and bar run by an adult cousin when a male wearing a hoodie burst in and started shooting.
Imani's Jamaican grandmother, Sandra Fisher, described her horror of finding the child lying in the bullet-scarred shop.
"After the bullets ring out I was scared and was shouting, 'Where's Imani? Where's Imani?' After a few minutes I was told she was dead in the shop so I went down there and, oh Jesus, I saw her lying down in a pool of blood. I couldn't believe it. It was Imani, it was ...," said Fisher, her voice trailing off.
National Security Minister Peter Bunting, citing initial reports from police, suggested on Sunday that the attack may have been a reprisal shooting related to Jamaica's lucrative lottery fraudsters. The multimillion-dollar scam typically uses disposable cellphones to cheat mostly elderly Americans out of their savings by enticing them to transfer money to claim winnings from a bogus lottery.
The tourist mecca of Montego Bay and its surrounding areas, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) away, are the hotbed for the scam, which has been linked to more than 600 homicides in this tourism-dependent Caribbean country.
Watkis said police are looking at a number of possible motives, including the lottery scam. But he said the investigation was still in progress and it was premature to announce a likely motive.
Residents in yam-growing Trelawny parish said they were shocked at the British child's slaying.
Homicides have historically been rare in their rural area, but times may be changing. On Monday afternoon, two Jamaican men were shot by gunmen in Red Dirt, the same district where Imani and her Jamaican relatives were attacked. One of the men died and the other was taken to a hospital.
Police would not speculate on whether the shooting that killed Imani had any links to Monday's attack.
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