Two more people are dead and a third injured as the spate of recent shootings in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) continued on the weekend, with very little comment by national security officials about practical steps being taken to address the situation.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who is also minister of national security, did not comment on the shootings when he spoke on NBC Radio on Monday, leading the nation in expressing condolences on the death of five men in a minibus accident in Sandy Bay on Sunday.
However, on Sunday, he spoke about the issue at the opening of a sports pavilion in Layou, saying, as he has done over the last few weeks, that there are a lot of opportunities for young males in SVG.
“It has not been an easy time, it has been quite difficult, quite challenging with COVID and the volcanic eruptions. But I am just asking you that we must try not to create additional difficulties for ourselves. Like, for instance, the increased criminal activity with guns among some young males,” Gonsalves said.
“I just want to make this simple point: You can’t live in a virtual world, you have to live in a real world. And there is no opportunity in guns.”
The prime minister said there are a lot of opportunities in the country for young people, including for training, education, and jobs and for them to get in business, sports, or culture.
“And you may think you may be big and strong and your gun might give you a little sense of power. But I tell you, you kill somebody today, put your pot on the fire that either that person’s friends or families are coming at you tomorrow or day after tomorrow,” the prime minister said.
“It makes absolutely no sense. And I am making this special plea, young persons, young males, in particular, the future is bright for you, but you have to seize the opportunities, not the gun,” Gonsalves further stated.
Meanwhile, for the third Monday in a row, Opposition Leader Godwin Friday lamented the killings and the government’s continued silence on the situation as the homicide count in SVG moved to 32 this year.
“It seems that every weekend, all we are waiting for is the score to see where there is a shooting and how many persons are injured or killed. This weekend, on Friday, and again early this morning,” the opposition leader said on his weekly appearance on NICE Radio.
He noted that the previous weekend, there were three shooting incidents in which two people were killed and two injured.
“This is something that we cannot accept as our new normal; we can’t believe and accept that in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that every weekend that people just have to wait and hear where your next shooting is,” Friday said.
“That is not normal. People are going to be afraid to come out of their homes, the way in which they enjoy their communities is going to change and we can’t have ourselves held hostage to this kind of violence.”
Police said, on Tuesday, that they received a report on Friday of a shooting in the Ottley Hall/Buddy Gutter area in which Garnett “Flingo” Wilkins was reportedly shot in his left leg.
He was taken to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH), where he was hospitalised.
Then, on Saturday, officers from the Major Crime Unit (MCU) responded to a report of a shooting which resulted in Matthew Charles, a 27-year-old labourer, of Mala Village, Sion Hill, being found dead in his mother’s yard sometime after 6 a.m. that day.
On Monday, police responded to another shooting incident at a shop in Redemption Sharpes.
Upon arrival at the scene, Bertram Saunders, a 46-year-old shopkeeper of Redemption Sharpes was discovered with what appeared to be gunshot wounds about his body.
Both Charles and Saunders were pronounced dead at the scenes by the district medical officer.
Residents told iWitness News that Saunders may have been killed around 1 a.m. Monday, in his shop when a salvo of gunshots pierced the silence of the community.
Sometime after the gunfire, residents realised that one of the doors of the shop, which was usually closed, was open onto the road.
When they responded, they met Saunders’ body in a seated position on a chair in the shop, in which he slept.
Police said post-mortem examinations are expected to be carried out on the bodies to ascertain the exact cause of death.
“We assure you that our officers remain vigilant and are working assiduously to ensure that the citizens and visitors to our blessed country remain safe,” the Police Public Relations and Complaints Department said in a press statement on Tuesday.
The police are encouraging people who can assist with these investigations to telephone 1-784-457-1211 or 1-784-456-1810, any police station or speak with any police officer with whom they are comfortable.
“All information received would be treated confidentially. At this time, investigations in the incidents are ongoing,” police said.
People demand reassurance — Friday
Meanwhile, the opposition leader noted that SVG does not make guns, but said there are many illegal firearms on the streets.
“The people of this country demand action on the part of the police and the security apparatus, including the minister of national security, to assure people that they are taking action, come to the people and let them know, don’t just keep it all to yourself, because that breeds suspicion, it breeds insecurity and speculation.”
Last week Tuesday, the police issued a statement acknowledging audio recordings circulating on social media in which gang members threatened to kill each other.
Last week Tuesday, police also arrested in possession of an unlicensed firearm and six rounds of ammunition, Zouck Mills, 25, of Barrouallie, whose name was mentioned in the recordings.
Mills pleaded guilty to the firearm and ammunition charges brought against him and was sentenced to jail for 42 months. He told the court that people were out to kill him and he could not rely on the police for protection, nor could he take a cutlass to a gun war.
On Monday, the opposition leader said that the silence by the government creates “more fear in our community.
“People have a right to be feeling safe in their homes, on the streets, in their villages and so forth. They don’t now. And that is because of this rampant violence escalation in shooting and the deaths that have resulted, the injuries that have resulted. The fear that has resulted must stop and the Minister of National Security, the Commissioner Police, police service in general are on the front line of this in looking for solutions, and they must assure people that they are doing so.
“The quietness, this is not a time for them to be quiet. They have to come and assure people that they have this thing under control, which it is not. The evidence is quite clear that it’s not under control.”
He said that the national security apparatus has to “show that they’re doing something to reassure people, and they’re not right now.
“It is not a time to keep your mouth shut and be quiet about it. This is a time to come and reassure the community,” adding that people do not want to live in a St. Vincent and the Grenadines where every weekend there is a report of two or three shootings.
Stop growing drugs Please make it illegal nothing more to say
Let them kill each other and be rid of them the country need peace not war.
Wat opportunities this old man talking about the yes an sett program for 500 am 900 ish a month?? This man really lost it I swear
Aryo pretty, jus watch wah people gwine say now in,de press an social media. After that is back to normal until the next incident. Education revolution? Not there. Pray to Jesus to solve the problems. All den high academic figures don’t mean a thing.
Hairoun the new wild wild west where lawlessness is rampant. Why build hotels, tourism is based on the assumption of a safe society. St Vincentnis one of the most violent society in the world as you take into consideration crimes per capita. Stealimg is rampant with the pillars of society are being eroded such as animal husbandry Farmers are crying out.
It’s sad to see that some young men in SVG glorified the killing of their brethren, they are copying what the see on TV and in the US and other countries, I hope they realize that when they take a life because of petty foolishness it’s is just going to go in a circle, you dig a grave for someone you might as well dig two because eventually you will be going in one. We need to think with a clear head and chose life instead of a early death.
There is a cry, a loud cry from the earth! Can you hear it? I can! There is a cry to find the root cause of all the crime that is being birthed in the land of St Vincent and the grenadines, we need to source the seed that has impregnated the violent mind of out youths.
There’s no need to blame the system as each man has a mind of his own.
Life presents us with a chance and two choices each day, the choice we take with the chance we get on a daily basis boils down to the individual with the Gun in his hand.
Should we want a better society and social life we need to censor the music that is being played or produced in the country, the films being broadcast, the attitude of our teens.
Placing a murderer behind walls call prison only poison his mind and give birth to a furious animal. It only release the devil in him. Making a man institutionalized only makes him ferocious and bitter. Too much time to think. If we reflect to scriptures, it states, “it’s not good for man to be alone”, have you ever look outside the religious sect to know why? Man becomes animal when encaged.
Despite I may want to understand human rights and a second chance, we still have to look at increasing corporal punishment publicly on every convicted murderer/ criminal. It may sound harsh but this is the only way we might have a society of reduced crime.
Prison is killing tax payers and should only be a place for petty crimes. Let the government invest in an Alcatraz in St Vincent but more gruesome that every criminal will have to eat the flesh of each other to survive.
One may say that I am horrible but at what point did that law offer leniency to gruesome criminals? Where is the hang man?
Can you hear the cry? Will you listen to the cry? What cry? The cry of innocent blood crying from the ground!!!!!
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