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Did TCI Police wait 30 weeks to get serious about radical, deadly gang turf war?

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By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff 

 

#TurksandCaicos, October 6, 2022 – Questions are being raised about the timeline surrounding the flare-up of violence in the Turks and Caicos these last few days and whether earlier, strategic intervention could have saved lives and the TCIs reputation.  The genesis of the senseless killing spree stretches back to March 2022 according to Nigel Dakin, TCI Governor; 207 days or nearly 30 weeks ago.

On Saturday March 12, 2022 the Turks and Caicos was in the midst of one of the first crime waves of the year, Four robberies had been carried out the night before and a man was robbed and shot in the early morning, that man would later die, and when Gari Santi Charles was murdered around 6pm that night, the nations security leaders were silent.  There would be one more innocent man robbed and killed that week before a decisive statement was made.

Of the two innocent who were robbed and brutally murdered, Governor Nigel Dakin said, “It’s hard to find the appropriate words to express one’s heart-felt sympathy to those they leave behind nor utter words of sufficient condemnation to those who took their lives.”

Of Santi, not even his name was confirmed by the Governor or Police Commissioner Trevor Botting who both made extensive statements condemning the crime spree.  All the public was told was that Police had been trying to apprehend him on four different occasions and were unsuccessful.  Obviously,  the police had an idea of how dangerous this man was proven by the many failed attempts to nab him.

A month passed and another wave of crime, including shooting robberies and home break ins began in early April. On the week of April 5th, Five Cays residents were forced to endure days of unexplained shootings that culminated in one injury and an extension of the failed gun amnesty.  The police knew exactly who was doing the shooting, and said so in a statement on April 8th.

“Armed policing operations have been deployed in Five cays in response to this situation, both to push back against the criminals carrying and discharging firearms, but also to proactively target those who we know are responsible,” they said.

Three days later Randall Rigby Junior was shot by an officer in a planned policing operation on Venetian Road.  The police say they went ‘to arrest a suspect for serious offences of violence and firearms related crime.’  A firearm was recovered on scene and an officer was injured.  Rigby died in hospital that night, and the police indicated no further comment would be made.

Like Charles, Rigby was not named by the police and no gang related statements were ever made in regards to the two deaths.

Unbeknownst to the public, Charles’ death, and that of Randall Rigby would spell serious consequences for the country.  That is according to Co-Chair of the security council Nigel Dakin in a statement on October 3rd.

“Several months ago, two local gangs, and yes, there is a very significant local element to this, two local gangs lost their leadership.  One, extremely local, one extremely violent local gang leader was shot dead by police for resisting arrest.  The other, a Haitian gang leader, who the police had made four separate attempts to arrest in the shanty areas of Romi Yard, was killed by one of his own gang, before he could be arrested.”

Between the deaths of Charles and the statement made by Dakin this past Monday, 207 days passed, 24 more murders were committed, all but one of them were young men and all but one of them who died was shot to death.

Fifteen of the 24 died in a 29-day span between September 3rd and October 2nd.  Included in that tally are innocents who were resting on a Sunday morning, enjoying an island vacation, or just having a night out with friends.  It was only after that bout of extreme viciousness that Governor Dakin, who chairs the National Security Council along with Premier Washington Misick, made the tell-all statement to the public from Parliament.

“The vacuum and confusion this created, allowing a predominately Jamaican gang, with a relatively small footprint here, to reinforce from Jamaica.”

The gravity with which the statement was delivered was felt deeply by Islanders, but it  begs the question, how long have the powers that be had this information?

Was the issue raised with the Prime Minister of Jamaica on the Premier’s visit in August?

How long has the knowledge that Jamaican affiliated gangs had not only infiltrated the Turks and Caicos, but were expanding been in the hands of those with the power to do something about it?

The Government also obviously has some knowledge of the involvement of our own young men in the issue.

This is as referenced by Premier Washington Misick whose warnings on September 5th were a grim foreshadowing to Sunday’s murder of a tourist, who was killed by bullets meant for the tour operators.

Based on the fervor with which Charles was pursued, the capture of Rigby and the detailed statement on Monday, it is abundantly clear the police knew something.  And yet no immediate announcement was made of the  significance of these so-called dangerous ‘gang leaders’ to the public .  Nor were the deaths followed up with any significant, on record, anti-gang operations, and to date no successful gang related convictions have been reported.

Only in the past few days has Turks and Caicos been supported by the UK, with a tactical unit training team arriving on Sunday.  The governor said five had arrived on the day of a three person killing rampage.

The Bahamas, through its Police Force, would also lend manpower support within days of the address at the Legislature.

The Jamaican Constabulary Force is offering intelligence-led support as well, Magnetic Media has learned.

Meanwhile, it cannot be ignored that the Royal Turks and Caicos Police has acknowledged they are out of their depth and are calling in and grateful for reinforcements.

The question remains, why not sooner, when lives could have been saved and the onslaught of unprecedented crime could have possibly been averted altogether.

News

Traffic Death again, a woman dies and two others hospitalised

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#TurksandCaicos, June 23, 2024 – Magnetic Media can inform that, yes there has been another traffic death in Providenciales and reports say it’s a woman who didn’t make it out of a three car smash up.

Almost, exactly 24 hours after a deadly collision was recorded in wee hours of Saturday morning came news, this morning, of a second death by motor vehicle accident.

“I can confirm the Police Control Room received a call during the early hours of this morning involving a serious accident on Leeward Highway. One person (female) died while others were rushed for medical treatment,” said Denyse Renne, media officer for the Royal TCI Police.

The Cheshire Hall Medical Center, which had already suspended visitation due to security concerns in the wake of four murders between Friday and Saturday in Provo, has restricted its Emergency Room to emergencies only.

TCI hospitals citing the unusually high demand for urgent medical care to multiple patients as the reason for the restriction.

While it is widely reported that the person who died in the traffic accident on Leeward Highway near Pratt’s Road is a female tourist, police say they’re investigating.

It’s been a total of six lives lost in startling incidents in the past day in Providenciales.  The tragic circumstances of the car accidents and sheer violence of the shootings have sent shockwaves throughout the country leaving residents utterly bewildered.

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Crime

Five Cays Shooting Death

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***MEDIA RELEASE***

June 22nd, 2024.

Homicide detectives of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force are actively investigating a murder in Five Cays, Providenciales.

Initial reports indicate that shortly after midday, the Police Control Room received several calls stating that gunshots were being heard in the area of the Community Center.

RT&CIPF officers responded to the given location and found the lifeless body of a male with what appeared to be gunshot wounds about the body.

The RT&CIPF is asking anyone with information that may help in this investigation to contact the closest police station, 911, the Serious Crime Unit at 231-1842, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-8477 to provide any information anonymously.

Additionally, individuals are encouraged to download the Crime Stoppers P3 app to share information.

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News

Rescued

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Media Release

June 22nd, 2024.

 

Two occupants of an aircraft were rescued around 3:28 p.m. today (June 22) following an intensive sea search around Providenciales.

The occupants –two males- are currently receiving medical attention.

The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force can confirm that shortly after midday, the Air Tower received a report regarding an aircraft landing on water (ditching) approximately 11 miles from Northwest Point, Providenciales.

The aircraft had departed from the United States and experienced engine failure.

Having received reports of the incident, a Strategic Coordinating Group with representation from the RT&CIPF, the TCI Civil Aviation Authority, the Airport Authority, the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies, and the Ministry of Health was activated to coordinate the search and rescue.

The group worked closely with partners from OpBat and received confirmation that a United States Coast Guard helicopter had successfully rescued the two persons after three hours.

The victims were brought ashore.

Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Mat Newton said, “I wish to express my profound gratitude and acknowledge the invaluable support of our national and international partners.

“This successful rescue operation is a testament to our collective strength and coordination. With the full support from our US partners and the local marine community, I extend my heartfelt thanks to our OpBat partners and the crew of the US Coastguard helicopter, as well as the Marine Branch of the RT&CIPF, the staff of the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR), the Department of Fisheries and Resources Management, Caribbean Cruisin, and vessels from the TCI Search and Rescue Association.

“We are now in the process of initiating an investigation into the accident in close liaison with the Civil Aviation Authority.”

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