An outburst of gunfire in Ottley Hall shortly after noon on Saturday has left residents worried that gang violence in the West Kingstown community has now hit a new level.
No one was injured when at least 10 gunshots were discharged, reportedly by masked gunmen who trained their guns on some male residents of the area.
The incident occurred days after a female resident of the West Kingstown community was gunned down — during the midst of the holiest week on the Christian calendar.
Police say that Shemeal Bowens, a 32-year-old unemployed mother of five, died on the spot after being shot by unknown assailants in Ottley Hall, her home suburb of Kingstown.
Police say that they received information that around 9:40 p.m. on Wednesday, Bowens was seen standing near a church, when two unknown assailants approached her and opened fire.
Bowens sustained several gunshot injuries about her body and was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Her death brings to seven the homicide count in St. Vincent and the Grenadines this year.
Law enforcement sources tell iWitness News that police suspect that Bowens may have been killed as a proxy for persons close to her who are said to be involved in criminal activity.
One resident of Ottley Hall, who spoke to iWitness News on strict condition of anonymity, said that the gunfire on Saturday suggested that different types of firearms were used.
“It is just total disrespect and disregard for life. Some people seem to think it is okay to walk through the community any hour armed with illegal firearms, fully loaded,” said the resident who said homemade firearms are also very common in the area.
Another resident, who also requested anonymity, told iWitness News that last Wednesday’s killing and the gunfire on Saturday is connected to an incident a few weeks ago where someone fired at a passenger in a minivan.
Sources tell iWitness News that “gangs” in the area are constantly feuding with each other, with members of the various rival factions not allowing each other’s members to go to certain parts of the community.
Sources say that the efforts of police officers who are specifically assigned to patrol the area are being frustrated by members of the society who aid the criminal elements.
They say that at two least police officers are stationed in the community at all times and they also conduct patrols.
“The criminals know the area better than the police and people often signal to them when the police are approaching,” one resident told iWitness News.