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Crime

Relatives Scream and Cry, brought to their knees as GUNMEN roam free

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Deandrea Hamilton & Wilkie Arthur 

Editorial Staff

#TurksandCaicosIslands, February 14, 2024The Turks and Caicos is not fearing well against illegal guns and the infiltration of these killer weapons, continues to wield its worse in 2024.  

 

A matter at the start of the month was a sobering reminder that we are not just tallying shootings and homicides, we are losing people.

 

In the mass shooting incident of February 1, the pain of loss was public and paralyzing.  Families screaming, crying, near fainting and mourning bitterly, loudly as bystanders and law enforcement observed; awestruck and incapable of consoling the relatives who were now faced with such traumatic loss. 

 

The evil and violent rampage is unconscionable.

 

Murder, in this way and at this rate is bound to hit home eventually for everyone in the small British overseas territory, home to around 50,000 people.

 

Sooner or later, it is my son or my brother or my cousin or my co-worker or my boy. It is reaching every doorstep and a threat that knows no bounds.

 

Mass shootings in the Turks and Caicos have happened in the tourism district of Grace Bay, near school sporting events, within homes and have even been directed at the Police, many times. 

 

On the night of Thursday February 1st in Providenciales, five men were shot up in the parking lot of the IBO Plaza which is near Beaches Roundabout; gunfire rang out around 10:20 p.m. 

 

An hour later police would confirm that two were dead, driving the murder count for the Turks and Caicos Islands to four.  That murder tally has quickly soared to seven people murdered so far in 2024 on the islands of Providenciales and Grand Turk.  

 

Among the victims on this fateful night, roughly thirteen days ago was a young man, who is the younger brother of a TCI Regiment member.  That member was on the same night, called to duty and working with the Royal TCI Police Force at one of its security check points set up in Provo.  

 

The Regiment member turned up to assist in the investigation and what he would see literally brought him to his knees.  A blood curdling cry is described as he robotically handed over his service weapon, flopped to his knees and wept over one of the bodies.

 

He shouted, “Not my baby brother!  My brother is a good boy!”

 

It was chilling and agony laid bare. 

 

The situation only became more anguishing when his mother arrived.  Together they wept and other relatives of the other victim, also rushed to the crime scene; devastated and inconsolable.

 

“It was a hollering time out there; it was so emotional out there even the officers struggled to keep their composure.  It is honestly one of the most emotional things I have ever scene.  It was terrible out there, just terrible,” said Wilkie Arthur, Court Correspondent for Magnetic Media.

 

Shortly after the shooting, reported Arthur, all of the businesses in the complex shut down.  Police began their investigations immediately, getting those operators to re-open presumably for questioning and insight, likely through security cameras.

 

It is also suspected that this is another retaliatory crime, stemming from the October 19, 2023 murder of Jumillo Isma and Mike Forbes; two men who were slaughtered mere metres away from the Providenciales International Airport terminal.  Isma, was trying to make his way out of the country but would never make the flight bound for London.

 

The shooting aroused a mixture of reactions.  

 

There was expressed disappointment that law enforcement seemed incapable of stopping the atrocious killings and frustration at the so called, ‘waste’ of police resources on check points which annoyed law-abiding residents and picked-up mainly on only minor traffic violations. 

 

Residents pointed out officers were distracted from their original mission, detecting and stopping crime; having now worn out their welcome, the check points were characterized as “predictable” and “ineffective.”

 

“They should go to where crime is actually happening,” said one resident on social media.

 

But even with the hyper vigilance of the joint law enforcement team through numerous security check points, the gunman who opened fire at the IBO Plaza were able to get though.  The shooters managed to get through at least three of the police check points.

 

As the night and the double homicide investigation wore on, it became clearer, that the shooting was meant to crash the party of a group of friends, celebrating a prison release.  Facts also expose that the two who were murdered, were not the intended targets.  

 

With anyone in earshot able to hear, at the crime scene that night, a bold vow to execute vigilante justice was announced by unknown men.  Police were warned to ready themselves for what was coming.

 

Within 24 hours, a second mass shooting would rock the country.  Two more murdered and a little girl caught in the spray of bullets.  The ten-year-old girl survived, reported as hospitalised with three gunshot wounds and her father was one of two men murdered.

 

Another week would pass, and a new shooting would shatter the serenity of the capital.  One young man lay dead in the street, riddled with bullets within yards of a high school sports meet.

 

It was another traumatic situation for Grand Turk, which only ten days earlier, on January 29th had its own mass shooting where four people were struck, one man fatally.

 

Incredibly, just eight days of February would pass and tiny Turks and Caicos would record five murders by gunfire.  

 

On February 10, the Royal TCI Police would announce the first arrests for a 2024 murder.  Three people were taken into custody for the February 8 shooting of a 24-year-old man.  It is a suspected murder plot and being questioned are two young men and a 55-year old woman.

 

The crimes have been condemned by country leaders and there has been government response to the deadly shootings.  Turks and Caicos will see a new temporary police commissioner and firearms expertise all from the UK and the hope is their tactics will help in stopping the bloodshed and finally put a dent in crime.

Crime

Following Court ruling, US Embassy Doubles Down on Warning: DO NOT TRAVEL TO TCI WITH GUNS, AMMO

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

Dozens of news reports are all over TV and the internet, scarring the Turks and Caicos’ reputation yet again. This time linked to what Americans view as the preposterous law, which would, without chance for legal argument, throw a tourist into prison for 12 years.  It is a mandatory conviction law on the books for possession of unlicensed guns or ammunition, and which just heard from the Court of Appeal that there ought to be no exceptions, whether it is one bullet or one gun, whether it is a tourist or a woman.

But what policymakers in various submissions in the House of Assembly back in October thought would return a win or opportunity for leniency to be injected as part of a legal defense has backfired.  Now, unequivocally, the high court has ruled that the law gives no leeway.  Anyone found with an unlicensed gun or ammunition must face what the law says is the penalty: not a fine, no reduced prison time, no exoneration, but 12 years mandatory in His Majesty’s Prison.

Now the US Embassy is doubling down on its message to travelers to the Turks and Caicos Islands.  Do not travel with your legal gun and ammunition from the US to the islands. Do not, because in the islands, your right to carry arms is not automatic, and if you are caught, you will face severe punishment, and there is nothing the US government can do about it.  There are several tourists charged and awaiting a ruling in their cases.  There is also a Grand Turk businesswoman who was arrested for a single bullet in her luggage.  While all of these matters are shocking and drawing public calls for leniency, as far as the law goes, everyone charged under it is headed to prison for 12 years.

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Caribbean News

More than 300 murders in Jamaica since 2024

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

Jamaica has recorded 311 murders since the start of 2024 as of April 13, across the 19 police divisions according to the latest crime statistics from the Jamaica Constabulary Force. However, despite the amount of murders, this is a decrease of 14 percent compared to the same time last year.

The divisions with the highest murder counts are: St James with 41, St. Catherine South, 29; Westmoreland, 28; St. Andrew South, 25; St. Ann, 21; and Clarendon, 21. Portland has the lowest with 2 murders.

Additionally, Rapes have declined by 37 percent and break-ins by six per cent.

Meanwhile, shootings have increased by three per cent and robberies one per cent, compared to the same time last year.

 

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Crime

Aggravated Burglary

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#TurksandCaicos, April 15, 2024 – The recent aggravated robbery targeting a five-member household is undoubtedly distressing for both the victims and the community at large.

Superintendent (Division A) Willet Harvey said, “Around 11:21 pm yesterday (April 14th) evening, the Police Control Room received a report that four masked males, three of whom were armed, entered a residence at New Subdivision, Grand Turk, and proceeded to rob the occupants.

The armed suspects managed to flee the scene on foot and escaped.

“Following the report, officers were dispatched to the scene, conducted extensive searches and interviewed individuals. Based on the information received, we are actively pursuing several leads that will lead to arrests in the shortest possible time.

“The incident highlights the importance of remaining vigilant and proactively safeguarding homes and families. I advise people to enhance their home security by locking doors and windows when inside, investing in a CCTV system, and ensuring adequate outdoor lighting. Should you have any information on this burglary or illegal activities in Grand Turk, please call 946-2299. ”

The RTCIPF asks the public to notify the closest police station, contact 911, the Serious Crime Unit at 231-1842, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-8477, and anonymously give any information on illegal activity.

Additionally, persons are encouraged to download the CrimeStoppers P3 app and share information.

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