Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has suggested that the latest spate of killings may have resulted from warring factions.

He, however, noted that four of them are suspected to have been committed by a mentally ill teenager.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines recorded seven murders between Nov. 13 and 21, bringing the tally this year to 34, just two short of the record for one year.

The latest deaths include four persons who were killed over a four-hour period on the night of Nov. 13.

Police say they suspect that Jurani Baptiste, an 18-year-old Sandy Bay resident that has a history of mental illness, killed the four persons

“And we know that is a very special set of circumstances, which are very, very painful,” Gonsalves told a press conference on Monday.

He, however, suggested that the other killings might have been more targeted.

“There are persons who belong to different groups. They are not yet solidified into gangs but who do tit for tat,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security.

“Some of it is generated on the basis of rivalries, generated on the basis of some manipulating people because of drugs, but others is just like territory,” Gonsalves said, adding that all of the killings are senseless.

“Because what you’re going to have? you’re just going to kill everybody ‘til the last one of you all standing? And what’s going to happen to your children? … these young men have children. What are you going to do? Bring about the loss of your life for some foolish vanity or some marginal gain of reputation or status. It’s not even money because to the extent that they are in any chain, they are at the end of the chain, very low end.”

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (IWN file photo)
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (IWN file photo)

The prime minister said the police made a presentation to Cabinet last Wednesday, adding that the police are also doing other things to contain the situation.

Gonsalves noted that most crimes ending in murder involve young males.

“There are a lot of institutions during a young male’s life which are critical, the first one, of course, is the family. Mothers and fathers can’t just lead their children in an ill-disciplined manner and when they reach 14 or 15 say it’s not their problem, it’s Ralph’s problem. Well, it’s all of us problem.”

The prime minister also mentioned among these moulding institutions school, churches, and community groups.

The prime minister said there are also the issues of policing and the law courts.

“These are issues together and, very much so, issues relating to the economy. But some of the people who are killing one another it’s not an issue because they are having a problem with the economy.

“There are a number of other reasons, including greed, including, as I say, territory and a number of other things of ridiculous vanity.

“So the analysis can’t be a simplistic, one-dimensional analysis and we all have an important role to play.”

Gonsalves said that as prime he has to make sure that the police are “in good shape, that the facilities are there, the legal framework is in good order, the facilities are there for fairly swift movement of cases, that the prison system is reasonable in every respect.

“These are law and order matters which connect with us and further to ensure that we have young people being involved in meaningful activities, including sports and the Cadets, pan against Crime, but there are other organisation which are involved in cricket and football and sports generally and music and the families playing their role.”

Gonsalves said that while he mentioned young males going astray, they are in the minority.

“… there are several times the number of them who go astray who are doing excellent work in a number of areas of human endeavour, involved in technical trades, sports and culture, far more than those who are making the headlines as someone who gets killed or has done the shooting.”

He also noted that most of the killings are done using firearms.

“We don’t produce the firearms. We don’t produce the bullets. Unfortunately, we can’t police every part of several islands, the 32 islands that make up St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but we seek to increase our surveillance of it and intelligence and the like.”

The prime minister said the challenge is an on-going one.

“But none of us can be happy, none of us can be satisfied with young people are people generally getting killed or maimed or injured and it’s an on-going battle, on-going quest for a reduction in all of this violence. Having said that, we still remain, by and large, a peaceful country,” Gonsalves said.

Jurani Baptiste: How drug abuse may have turned star teen cricketer into suspected killer 

6 replies on “‘Tit for tat’ killings in St. Vincent”

  1. As a social scientist, the primary cause here is the family, then the community, then the larger culture, and so on. Poverty is at the bottom of the list because such killings are rampant in rich countries with lots of opportunities like the United States, on the one hand, and hardly occur at all in some very poor countries, much poorer than our own, because of the strength of family ties, close supervision by community members, a culture that abhors such killings, etc., on the other.

    Still, there are things that the government can do to reduce the rate of such violent crimes such as decriminalizing, even legalizing, marijuana production, distribution, and consumption because a lot of these killings are the result of: (1) people stealing each other’s nearly ripe weed and (2) people cheating each other in ganja transactions.

    Because of the criminalization of a relatively harmless plant (compared even to many prescription drugs sold by pharmacists in Kingstown, many of them lethal even in fairly small doses), a grower or seller can’t run to the police crying that someone tief him or rip him off. All he can do is maim or kill the other person to get at least a modicum of satisfaction.

    I am not a psychologist, but suspect a lot of murders that result because of issues of disrespect are a product of the low sense of self esteem many of our youth carry, much of which is again related to the poor parenting of many of our women and the absence of loving father figures in their lives.

    1. Why are we speculating so much on an issue that’s so serious. There are many factors that are at play here, social, economic, religious, even spiritual. Therefore, we can’t blame one area and overlooking the others. We need to get to the real causes, including those suggested by the PM and yourself and get to the real root of the problem. But no one seems to want to address the problem and accepts it as the modern day normal way of life. It is not, especially for a small island like SVG. Let us collectively, government, opposition, churches, communities and other organizations start looking at this problem seriously and address it from the ground up, otherwise it is only going to get worse. Then what would happened to our tourism. Not even our nationals living overseas would want to come back home to visit or live. In a small island like SVG we should not have to walk around be so scared, fearful of being robbed, attached or even killed.

      1. This will not easily change regardless of what, “collectively, government, opposition, churches, communities and other organizations.”

        You can’t change a culture which has slowly but surely evolved to this state one day at a time unless you introduce totalitarian rule along the lines of Cuba and North Korea.

        But wait, Venezuela has become more or less a dictatorship and still the murder rate keeps going up.

        Sorry, Brown Boy USA, this is the way our country now is so you will have to learn to live with it by accepting that some social problems have no solutions.

  2. Excuses, excuses, excuses! That’s all you get out of SVG and the ULP. He didn’t mention the state of the economy which helps to trigger crime. How could he address the killing of a shop keeper as part of the drug issue?
    Then he tries to blame parents when he makes them criminals for punishing their children. Yes, it’s your problem when poor people cannot discipline their children at a young age. The only child abuse issues in SVG are child rape which you fail to control with harsh punishments.
    The good, the bad and the ugly that happen on your watch is yours to own. If you don’t like the heat then you should get out of the kitchen. You have created an environment where crime is rampant and fail to take some responsibility for it. Listen to the people cry for help and your goons don’t turn up. Your excuse is that they can’t be everywhere when the real problem is they don’t turn up. And of course their excuse is they don’t have transportation. Why didn’t you address this? Why don’t you address this failure by telling the people you would implement a system where the police will be available 24/7 for critical calls?
    How could a criminal kill a person in Camden Park, travel to another area and attack several persons close to where you live and no action was implemented to find the culprit? That’s what is wrong with the system you have now and it needs to be changed. You and your commissioner are just making excuses instead of be proactive. You are probably security minister for your house and not the nation.

  3. Mr. PM, why gave such suggestive conclusion on an issue as serious as the present crime situation plaguing the country? You’re a man of facts. Therefore, unless there is some substantive factual basis for your suggestive remarks, your suggestions should be kept at bay to avoid being misconstrued as being factual without any fact base. Don’t be making suggestive remarks without any fact to backup your claim. Unless you know for certain the circumstances and reporting it as suggestions, which then is misleading! We need facts, not suggestions! Just being straight up because this is of real serious concern to us as a people and a nation known for its peace and tranquility.

  4. Unfortunately the govt or the pm cannot do anything about what’s going on in SVG as far as these killings by shooting is concerned. Its a war going on if you haven’t figured it out by now this is why the pm said tit for tat killing which exactly what it is..the killing of Sean Dopwell,do you have any idea of how many lives are going to be affected by that for years to come?
    Someone mentioned above legalizing weed will reduce crime, yeah that might help out the situation a bit, but some of these guys are dealing with cocaine not weed, in vast amounts. Many of the murders and bizarre stories in the past five years had to do with cocaine, not weed, it’s called cocaine blight. You think alot of those so called “shooters” in SVG don’t want to make money and live a quiet life? But they can’t because people are trying to kill them so it’s a matter of who kills who first, it’s a sad state of affairs and the violence is going to continue, let us just hope and pray no more innocent lives are taken away.
    On that note SVG is still a safe place to visit i see people living overseas wondering if its safe, yes it is! as long as you are not stealing people drugs or trying to finesse people out of their money. Oh yeah and watch the company you keep.

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