Robbery victims Christa Gumbs, left, and her daughter, Olivia Kirby during a happier moment of their vacation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Two U.S.-based Vincentians were robbed at gunpoint in Villa Sunday night as they returned to their hotel from a nearby restaurant, hours after attending the funeral of a relative who was shot and killed.

The crime was committed by an adult male and two boys, whom one of the victims said looked to be no older than 13 years old.

The crime was committed against Christa Gumbs, 54, who is originally from Vermont, St. Vincent, but now lives in Boston, United States, and her U.S.-born daughter, 26-year-old Olivia Kirby, who was making her second trip back to her ancestral home.

Gumbs told iWitness News on Tuesday that she and her daughter left Paradise Beach Hotel around 7:45 p.m. to dine at Mangoz Restaurant and Bar, located nearby, along the beachfront tourism strip in Villa.

She said that she had just returned from the funeral in Vermont of her nephew, Lorenzo Gould, who was gunned down by unknown assailants as he walked home around 11 p.m. on July 18.

Gumbs said that to go to Mangoz, they walked out of the back gate of the hotel that leads onto the beach then onto the boardwalk.

They stayed at the restaurant until about 9:30 p.m. then walked back to the hotel.

“People were at the Young Island dock. People were standing there and others were in the water,” Gumbs told iWitness News.

“And we came across where Aquatic Club used to be and then we got on the boardwalk. And when we got on the boardwalk, I heard somebody behind us, so I looked back and there was a tall man with two little kids. They looked like to be 13 and 10.

They were no more than 4 feet tall.

“So, I saw them coming behind us, so I figured they were guests as well, going the same way we were going,” said Gumbs who first left St. Vincent in 1976 and was making her first trip back since 1991.

“And as the tall guy walked, the little ones, one of them was in front of us, he walked back to me and then he stood in front of me, my daughter was in front of me and he said, ‘Give me your bag!’

“So, he turned back and he looked at me and he said, ‘Give me your bag!’ And I looked at him and I stepped up to him because he was so tall and skinny I figured I could just take him down.

“And as I stepped to him, he pointed a gun to my forehead. He said, ‘Give me the bag!’ So then, I gave him the bag, I backed back. Then he went to my daughter. My daughter kept running around and saying, ‘No! No! Please! Please!’ And he took the gun and put it to her temple and I said, ‘Olivia, please give him the bag.’ And she gave him the bag.

“In this time, the other two boys were there and I thought how come nobody is helping us, but when I looked, they were safeguarding the left and the right, to make sure nobody was coming from the left of the beach or the right of the beach. And then he took our bags and he said, ‘Walk. Go! Go! And be quiet!’

“So, we walked off the boardwalk, stepped in the water, we walked and when I got to where there was light, I screamed for bloody murder.”

Gumbs said that the robbers took their pocket books, which contained about US$100 in cash, the keys to their hotel rooms, and an iPhone that Kirby had received as a gift for completing her master’s degree.

She said that when she returned to the hotel, the gate was locked.

“… to enter from the beach where we came out was locked. I don’t understand how that can happen and then nobody informed us. We were staying here since Thursday and this was Sunday and we were on the patio and saw people go through the gate.”

The boardwalk in Villa that runs outside several tourism establishments. (iWN photo)

She said the staff at the hotel came to the gate and was trying to open it but had no keys and had to run back to the hotel to get the key.

“It seemed like five minutes before they could get the gate open.”

The police were summoned and they went around the area and found the pocket books.

“But my problem here is not the things that I lost. It’s that I am from St. Vincent. I lived in Brooklyn, New York for many years. I have never got a gun pulled on me. I brought my daughter home. I said, ‘This is home. So, she felt safe, I felt safe. And to see we just buried a family member through gun violence the same day, two hours before.”

Gumbs said that since being robbed she has heard that crimes have been committed against visitors in the same area.

“We could have been dead,” she said of herself and her only child.

She also told iWitness News that while she was giving the report to the police, the hotel presented her with her bill, because she had indicated that she was checking out.

“I am not saying I shouldn’t pay the bill, but, at least, wait until we are finished,” she told iWitness News.

“I checked out the same night. I could not stay there again… I felt sick to my stomach, scared, nauseous, frightened, vulnerable; I felt homeless, helpless. You name every emotion, I felt it and still feeling it now.”

Gumbs said that some portions of the boardwalk are lit.

“But the majority of it, after you pass Aquatic Club ‘til you get to Paradise Hotel is dark. The boardwalk has some lights but once you step off the boardwalk, maybe a good 50 foot of it is dark.”

She was also not pleased with the police procedure regarding filing a report.

“The police came, we gave them a statement for two hours. Then, Monday morning, we had to go back to the police station and give another statement, written — about 11 pages written.

“Why don’t they have computers to put this thing on. And then they wanted us to read that to make sure it’s fine. This is backwards. They should have a computer to take that or give somebody a job to dictate that.”

Gumbs expressed fear that the worst might happen along the boardwalk.

“Somebody is going to get killed over there… Had I had a gun, they would have been dead, all three of them. And the Minister of Tourism, I need to get in touch with him, because I am not done with him… They want people to come here and visit and this is the condition, they’re keeping it quiet and I almost lost my life with my kid?”

Meanwhile, manager of Paradise Beach Hotel, Kim Halbich told iWitness News on Wednesday that one of two gates at the hotel that open onto the beach is locked at nights for security reasons.

She, however, said that the bartenders are nearby.

“The bartenders are right above the gate looking because we can’t have every and any body — it is a security measure. It was locked but she literally didn’t wait one minute. And that’s one of two gates. One other gate was not locked at all,” Halbich said.

She further said that the bill was given to Gumbs after she indicated that she was checking out and when she specifically asked for it.

“We were arranging a new room and the staff member asked her if she had decided what she was going to do. And this was over a course of three hours.

“A gentleman came and asked, ‘She has to pay this tonight?’ and I didn’t even answer the gentleman. And, in the end, she told me to take the payment.”

The hotelier expressed concern about security around the Young Island Dock, saying that there are fewer police patrols there than had been the case and that the area is not well-lit.

She said that had hotel staff seen the guests walking out the gate at that hour, they would have advised them to take the main road instead.

27 replies on “US-based Vincies robbed at gunpoint during vacation in SVG”

  1. Last visit to our home-not-so-sweet-home for them, I’m sure, based on our runaway crime level, a feature that is bound to haunt all sectors of our society, including the tourist industry, until Kingdom come.

    As for these robbers, they are all armed and they are all about just waiting to pounce on their next victim. We have become prisoners in our own land fearful of venturing out of doors from sunset to sunrise.

  2. Mary beverly hector says:

    Wow it’s scary…It’s like home will be less visited…Airports will lapse if you guys don’t buckle up y’all saddles..

  3. So sad! All of these islands have changed. There are murders everywhere. Years ago when you hear of 5 murders in SVG; that was bad. As of now it is 17, and we are only in the 8th month of the year. We have to keep up with the news in these islands because things are not as before. Many criminals exist in the islands now.

      1. Jamal you seems like you luv man ….why you stalking me ….get a life… troll!! and get your diminutive brain checked

    1. Its not a new phenomenon its been going on for years and has been growing at a magnified rate since Ralph E Gonsalves became the Minister of Crime. Too many police have become political police with around 80 in shifts just for his own protection. The citizens do not matter, what is important is that he and his family dynasty are protected around the clock. People are being robbed, mugged, beaten and killed whilst he pigs out in private Cuban dining rooms protected by the Cuban State.

  4. Rawlston Pompey says:

    TERRIFYING ORDEAL

    For whatever reason or reasons ‘… hospitality management’ often
    appeared reluctant in advising guests of the possibility of a robbery
    attack, should they traverse to certain areas off the premises at nights.

    There must to be ‘…Dos and Don’ts.’

    Most certainly, guests would be annoyed and disagreeable,
    but would take precautions and avoid traversing ‘…where angels fear.’

    That which appeared troubling, was the apparent display of ‘…insensitivity.’
    After the traumatic experience, victims were reportedly subjected to sitting
    at a Police Station dictating ‘…11-pages of Terrifying Ordeal,’

    This is longer than the shortest book of the bible- ‘…3 John.’

    Unthinkable, unheard of; …unconscionable and unacceptable.

    Empathizing with the victims.

    Robbery or no robbery, ‘…incurred accommodation expenses,’ must be paid.

    The incident has absolutely nothing to do with the ‘…price of tea in Taiwan.’

    Remember the experiences of ‘…Vincentian/Canadian Allie Franklyn-Providence’
    [IWN: March 27, 2018].’

    Shamelessly or optimistically, he gave reporters a ‘…finger pointing to heaven,’
    That could be interpreted otherwise.’ Not sure if he, or how many may get there.

    Maybe Kenton Chance will, if only for his in depth reporting and supporting
    incident/crime scenes. Excellent.

  5. For some this is news, for the persons it’s personal. Lots of stuff in this article, I’m the parent of a murdered child; I don’t live in SVG. I’m not the victim in this case so forgive me because I don’t understand the reference to the minister of tourism in this matter. So can someone help me to understand if it’s the practice that elected officials take a role in criminal investigations. Does this happen in UK, Canada, USA, Caribbean or elsewhere. While there is room for improvement, let’s be real we cannot sanitize SVG with regards to crime. However we must develop skills to be professional and sensitive when dealing with the victims of crimes. For us who see these as news painting the issue with a broad brush may or may not help an already bad situation

  6. It is interesting to note that the mananger noted that if the hotel staff had seen the guests walking that pathway, that they would have advised them to walk at the main road
    Such advise must be issued to guests BEFORE (upon arrival ) perhaps as precautionary measures.
    This advice may help to prevent a tragedy.
    The hotel management needs to seriously review safety measures

  7. Samantha jone says:

    This is shameful and horrible. I’ve been on vacation to other Caribbean islands where crime rate is way higher than SVG, but these places provide safe environment for tourist! There’s police everywhere and security on the beaches on the lookout for the safety of the tourists. Wake up SVG! THIS IS 2018 IF YOU WANT TO INCREASE TOURISM YOU MUST DO BETTER! No one will want to visit SVG if their life is threatened.

  8. Patricia Montel says:

    Wow very frightening. I feel for Ms Gumbs and her daughter. The islands have become Americanized in a very bad way. Im not saying everyone out there was all innocent but to think you can’t even come home to enjoy yourself!! I did not even see an apology Wow again smdh

  9. gov, must give mandatory 2 yr jail sentence for anyone caught with a gun or ammunition and give rewards to ppl that give info on ppl with guns and drugs

    1. You are of course joking Al, 2 years means nothing to these people, such a small prison sentence is an encouragement to them if they think that is all the risk is. Life is the only sentence they should be offered, but it is a proven fact that such long sentences increase homicides. So first offence 10 years with no leniency form the court whatsoever. Second offence given a life sentence at a new jail on a prison to be built at Canuan Island next to the resort there.

      1. @ Jolly lol….but if you do what you said the people will say you are communist not to mention the human rights groups so I know you are joking . I was thinking about something more realistic

        @ Dean keep me out of your political agenda …….. I am strictly business lol

    2. Yes, blame the guns…even the legal guns. We should also put a ban on forks and spoons so we can solve obesity. Maybe ban cars so we will not have traffic accidents….brilliant!

  10. Devern Lewis-Bastien says:

    This is so sad.
    I visited home for a family reunion and carnival this year and was warned not to take large sum of money when traveling.
    I understand Mrs.Gumbs. I have been abroad for 31 years and never had such an encounter.
    Home is home but home has changed.
    Thanks be to the almight the outcome could have been much worst. Material things can always be replaced but life is much more precious.

    1. As long as the government incites people that we NEED things like a billion dollar airport, and a new Kingstown in Arnos Vale, taxes will continue to rise and the people will get squeezed even more for thier money. The businesses will get squeezed even more and more will close. When it becomes more and more difficult for people to make money, many that cannot leave SVG will think up ways to survive. some of them will turn to crime. Unfortunately the present government is destroying an environment of opportunity; all avenues are being closed so that the government gets more money and the people get less.

  11. It’s so sad to see our little paradise reduced to this level. There are things the hotel community can do to ensure that guests are safe, they can install high powered lights, motion cameras and hire armed guards.

    1. Is it that hard economic times are driving people to commit these crimes? Or it because they are sure they will never be caught. What kind of parents will school their children in the acts

  12. The government in svg should make Robbery with a deadly weapon, a life sentence.. They need to get tough on crimes, and send a message that it’s not going to be tolerated..

  13. The area has been dangerous for the last 20 years with the police doing nothing to stop the criminal activity.

    The Young Island cut used to be full of sailing boats who moored for the night. Every time they left their boats to go for dinner, their boats were robbed and seriously damaged. The police failed to stop that and had little interest in doing so. In the end no one but an uninformed fool and the Governor General moor there.

    Right there at that very board walk, one of the regions most qualified restaurateurs Dave Dunn lost all his business because of boat robberies. On one occasions criminals came into his restaurant [the Lime Pub and restaurant] with and Uzi machine gun and robbed all the clients at gun point. He fought to stay open for years but in the end the criminals won, no thanks to the police.

    He begged the police for years for help but got none.

    The hotels on the only strip of white sand beach on the island have been fighting for years to keep the crime problems under wraps, they knew if made public it would further wreck their ailing business’s. Now Mr Halbish has had the courage to strike out and make this public. Its a shame that only when it directly affects a business and the business is named publicly that they choose to go public.

    This is a security failing of the Minister of Crime Ralph E Gonsalves, the useless police force, and the Unity Labour Party who are known to hold rape rallies and support a family dynasty in staying in power.

  14. Hashtag Prince says:

    So the police in SvG don’t do foot patrol at all? They just stay in the stations?
    Are they so busy that they can’t come out?

    I would recommend foot-patrol in pairs in the city area with one officer (qualified to carry a weapon) equipped with a gun. At night there should be at least a 12 group patrol in the town area, divided into pairs with radios. You can call it CITY PATROL in a 10pm to 5am shift.

    Start bringing out the Tourist Police to work at night. Let a Tourist Police pair with a Police Constable and patrol in the Tourist Belt and entertainment areas like Villa and Calliaqua. These can be a 10pm to 5am shift as well and they don’t have to be in uniform, they can be undercover. (well, I mean dressed in civilian clothes).

    This is a good way to build community public relations and be in touch with the communities. Hence it would foster and boost confidence in the operations of the Police Force of SVG.

    These recommendations are necessary to enhance and promote visitor safety and arrivals to the state.

  15. Christa Gumbs says:

    If the Priminister is […], downplaying […] these crimes that’s occurring in his island under his administration, all I can do is pray for St.Vincent and my fellow Vincentians! It is sad. It’s time for Vincentians to vote for what they want, you don’t want crime, you know how to vote! I see no other way out of this situation.

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