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Lance Cpl. Michael Aichner, 23, with Weapons Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion scans sidewalks during a Light Armored Reconnaissance patrol Wednesday through neighborhoods in Port au Prince Haiti known to house gang members.
Lance Cpl. Michael Aichner, 23, with Weapons Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion scans sidewalks during a Light Armored Reconnaissance patrol Wednesday through neighborhoods in Port au Prince Haiti known to house gang members. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)
Lance Cpl. Michael Aichner, 23, with Weapons Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion scans sidewalks during a Light Armored Reconnaissance patrol Wednesday through neighborhoods in Port au Prince Haiti known to house gang members.
Lance Cpl. Michael Aichner, 23, with Weapons Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion scans sidewalks during a Light Armored Reconnaissance patrol Wednesday through neighborhoods in Port au Prince Haiti known to house gang members. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)
Staff Sgt. Shawn Johnston, 29, the platoon sergeant with Weapons Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, talks with two Haitian National Police officers about the spate of crime that has hit the Mayer neighborhood of Port au Prince, Haiti.
Staff Sgt. Shawn Johnston, 29, the platoon sergeant with Weapons Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, talks with two Haitian National Police officers about the spate of crime that has hit the Mayer neighborhood of Port au Prince, Haiti. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)
U.S. Marines with Weapons Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion clear a roadblock Wednesday while on patrol in the Cruix-des-Bouquets and Mayer neighborhoods of Port au Prince, Haiti; areas known for criminal and gang activity.
U.S. Marines with Weapons Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion clear a roadblock Wednesday while on patrol in the Cruix-des-Bouquets and Mayer neighborhoods of Port au Prince, Haiti; areas known for criminal and gang activity. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Port-au-Prince gang members continue to intimidate, keeping frightened police from patrolling the streets and neighborhood doctors from asking questions of patients seeking help for gunshot wounds.

The news comes as no surprise to U.S. Marines tasked with patrolling neighborhoods such as Cruix-des-Bouquets and Mayer, said Staff Sgt. Shawn Johnston, platoon sergeant with Weapons Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.

“We patrol the areas every day. But we’re not out just showing presence, we’re out there gathering information and trying to deter gang activity,” Johnston said.

It’s slow going. Marines have been trickling into the country since late February. Marines engaged in heavy firefights during the first two weeks, with the sole casualty to a Marine who suffered a gunshot wound, but attacks against them have all but ceased, several said.

Crime against Haitians, however, is pervasive.

“The police are routinely attacked while out on patrol,” Johnston said. “They’ve been held at knifepoint, their weapons stolen, they’ve been stabbed and shot. They’re afraid.”

During a visit to one police station, Commissar a De La Cruix-des-Bouquets, Haitian National Police officers told Johnston that the government still has not delivered new equipment and vehicles stolen or damaged in February. They also are without electricity and running water.

A local doctor reported to Marines that he often treats gunshot patients, gang members who come to him to get medical help.

“I don’t ask any questions, I don’t ask names. I’m afraid,” he said. His name is not being published.

The general health of the local population is not good, as resident suffer from respiratory problems, rashes, dehydration because of stomach ailments, he said. The government has not provided the doctor any medical supplies.

“I pay out of my pocket,” he said through a translator.

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