PORT-AU-PRINCE — At least three people were shot, including one Haitian National Police officer fatally, and a church and prosecutor’s office were set on fire so far this week during a period of rising gang violence and social unrest, according to local reports.
Members of the 400 Mawozo gang, the police told Le Nouvelliste, shot police officer Réginald Laleau dead inside a local church, Assemblée de Dieu à Meyer, after a Sunday service. After shooting Laleau, the killers took away his body and cut off his hands, WhatsApp videos and pictures show.
The graphic video quickly drew condemnation from the public.
“We’ve become so ugly,” a Twitter user who goes by Joseph Dalton said. “We’re tired of these bandits.”
Residents, workers and law enforcement have blamed gang-affiliated bandits for a litany of incidents, including police-led patrol and special operations against local gangs.
In one video, 400 Mawozo leader Wilson “Lanmò San Jou” Joseph said he had announced he would kill officers manning the Men Lap Fè San police vehicle. The Creole name, which means “It’s a bloodbath” in English, refers to an armored police vehicle that patrols Croix-des-Bouquets, the commune that is a 400 Mawozo stronghold.
Joseph also vowed to kill another officer whom he called out by name in the video.
“Don’t forget Belizaire. We will get you too,” Joseph said. “Your name is being heard too much. You guys think you’re the kings of the world.”
Two days later, overnight on Jul. 25 to Jul. 26, members of 400 Mawozo burned the Prosecutor’s Office in Croix-des-Bouquets after the police attempted an operation to capture Joseph, Croix-des-Bouquets Commissioner Roosevelt Zamor told The Haitian Times.
“No fatalities were incurred,” Zamor said. “[But] The building is quite damaged. Authorities will carry out legal monitoring and will take measures to continue to serve the public.”
Elsewhere around the Haitian capital region, several people in Carrefour-Feuilles were injured during a gang fight, among them a 6-year-old girl who was shot while at her home. Anne Samaëlle Junie Dallemand is the daughter of Samuel Dallemand, a Radio Tele Ginen reporter.
Gang members fighting over territories also broke into the Port-au-Prince Cathedral and set fire to what remains of the church destroyed by the 2010 earthquake. No deaths were reported from the fire.
The gang shootout was between the Bel Air Gang, alongside G-Pep, and Force Revolution G-9, the gangs led by Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier.
This situation forced the board of Directors of the Faculty of Sciences at the State University of Haiti, to stop academic activities until an improvement of the situation.
“In less than a week, several stray projectiles were found in the courtyard and even in classrooms,” University of Haiti officials said in a Jul. 27 note.
Other violent acts that left the public scared include the video of armed men pulling people out of a car to kidnap them on Delmas 31 on Jul. 26.
Anti-government protest demand PM’s resignation
Meanwhile, many people joined an anti-government protest on Jul. 27, where a protester was shot twice and a car was set on fire. The person has yet to be identified.
The Ayiti An Aksyon (AAA) political party, or Haiti In Action, organized the demonstration to demand Prime Minister Ariel Henry to resign and to protest against the violent climate and the rising cost of living.
“The population must go and close the doors of all public administration institutions and ensure that they remain closed until peace returns to the country,” a protester fleeing stray projectiles told Actualite Local TV.
The demonstration, which drew several dozens of people, started on Delmas and was supposed to end in Bourdon, where Henry resides. However, the protesters were dispersed by the police.