Two men were shot and killed and two others injured in what has been described as a drive-by shooting in Evesham around 7:30 Monday night.
Dead are Evesham residents Benjamin Jackson and Derwin “Puppy” Robinson.
Dion “Dirts” Durrant , 35, a security guard of Evesham and Dominic Smart, 23, a landscaper of Riley, received gunshot injuries during the incident.
The deaths bring to 24 the number of killings in the country so far this year, the sixth since June 12.
Guns were used at last 17 of the killings.
There have been suggestions that persons are being killed over a cocaine transaction that reportedly went sour.
Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Ralph Gonsalves on Monday said he has read the reports about cocaine falling into the hands of people for whom it was not intended.
On June 12, accused drug runner Godfrey Cumberbatch, 42, was shot twice in the head in Glen while lying on a bed with his girlfriend and daughter.
Cumberbatch, who was on EC$100,000 bail, was scheduled to appear in court on June 19 for a preliminary inquiry into charges relating to a 2,000-pound marijuana bust on Feb. 20.
Two days later, Chesley “Puppy” Dowers, 31, was shot several times as he sat on his patio in Golden Vale on June 14.
Matthan Slater, a labourer of Union Island, died in hospital on July 1. He was shot in the abdomen in Kingstown around 2 a.m. on June 29, near “Yanky”, a shop and fried chicken outlet on Higginson Street.
Police on Saturday arrested Kirt Stapleton, a 22-year-old labourer of New Montrose, and charged him with Slater’s murder.
Stapleton was also charged with using a firearm to aid in the commission of the offence of the murder of Slater, had in his possession one firearm with intent to endanger life and had in his possession a firearm without a
licence issued under the Firearms Act, at Kingstown on June 29.
Keshorn Richards, 23, a labourer of Fair Hall/South Wood died in a hail of bullets outside a house in Fair Hall around 8:40 p.m. on July 1.
Kevin Greaves, a 36-year-old resident of Rivulet, died in hospital on July 5, after being shot multiple times by unknown assailant(s) in Kingstown Park that same night.
And, on July 5, 65-year-old Hyacinth Hoyte, a domestic of Paget Farm, Bequia died during a cutlass attack in which her husband, Marcs Hoyte, a 65-year-old stevedore, also received chop wounds.
Lyndon Quashie, who was suspected of committing those crimes, was found dead in the burnt out ground floor of a house on the North Grenadines island two days later.
He is believed to have committed suicide.
The shooting Monday night came hours after Gonsalves told a press conference that a mobile police unit will be placed in Glen and Belair in the wake of the shootings.
“Obviously, we have to strengthen the security throughout, for everybody, including the many visitors who are in that particular area, including the medical students, too,” Gonsalves told a press conference on Monday, noting that there are also medical students in Montrose.
“The police have been alive to that issue, on those two questions,” he said.
Gonsalves also spoke about the relationship between the drug trade and some of the killings in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and suggested that persons were being murdered over cocaine.
“When I talk about — and you have heard me on this before — that money is really the oxygen of criminality and that drugs is the facilitation of that oxygen, I think people would get a graphic idea as to what is happening there.
“Because I see everybody reporting, saying it’s a fight in relation to — I read the report, I am not telling you what I got from the police, but I read the reports — that you say that some cocaine might have landed on the beach and somebody took it who wasn’t supposed to get it and he who was supposed to get it is battling the one who actually got it,” the Prime Minister said.
“When I say we live in a dangerous neighbourhood, this again illustrates the fact that we are in a conduit for drugs, cocaine. We produce the marijuana here but that is not what is the focus for the real money spinning. The focus of the real money spinning is the cocaine,” he further said.
He said there is a lot of cocaine in Columbia, which comes through the Caribbean on its way to North America and Europe.
Gonsalves said that Caribbean, American, and British law enforcement agencies have done much to close off this area of the trade and while there has been a significant set of controls put on it, but cocaine still comes through.
“So what they have done, as you have noticed, they go across the Atlantic, they use places on the coast of West Africa, like Guinea Bissau to get to America,” he said.
Gonsalves further said that Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala are among the top seven in the world in terms of their murder rate.
“And they are using them to get to Mexico and to go up. Remember you know, the guys who are running this trade, this is a multibillion-dollar trade. These fellas have their strategy as to how they are going to make money. As far as they are concerned, this is a business. And I am just giving you a broad prospective in terms of discussions as to what transpired between ourselves in the Caribbean and St. Vincent, with the Americans and the British and the French and so on with whom we are working in dealing with matters,” Gonsalves said.
Update: An earlier version of this story said two persons were killed and a third injured. Police have since said that two persons were killed and two injured.