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The scene of the shooting in Kingstown on July 19, 2023.
The scene of the shooting in Kingstown on July 19, 2023.
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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says law enforcement agencies in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) will solve the case of the shooting in Kingstown Wednesday night that left five people dead, including a 13-year-old boy.

“… we will get to the bottom of this and we will bring the perpetrators to justice,” Gonsalves said from Morocco, where he is on an official visit.

In a video statement released via state media Thursday morning, Gonsalves said he was addressing Vincentians “with a heavy heart”, having received the news as he arrived in the north African country Wednesday night.

He said that he immediately got in touch with Commissioner of Police, Colin John, acting Prime Minister, Montgomery Daniel and Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves.

“During the night, into the wee hours of this morning Morocco time, I was on the phone getting updates and giving advice and suggestions,” Gonsalves said.

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He said he had spoken to the Cabinet from London on Wednesday even before the shooting “about additional measures which we needed to take.

“And I also spoke to the Commissioner of Police. So, we were putting additional measures in place when this shooting came about,” the prime minister said.

In a statement Thursday morning, Commissioner of Police Colin John assured the public that SVG is still safe despite the spate of violence.

“The serious crimes that are being committed are by and large committed by a very small group of people against others of the same ilk. We advised persons to settle their differences in a more mature, civilised and amicable manner. Also, we strongly advocate that persons respect the rights to life of each other,” the police chief said in a statement.

The shooting Wednesday night brought to seven the number of people shot and killed in SVG since Tuesday morning.

Kemon Roberts, 28, of Golden Vale was shot shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday as he walked to work. Cole Oliver, 18, is expected to appear in court today (Thursday) charged with Roberts’ murder.

Then, around 9:40 p.m. Tuesday, Kingsley “Crime” Shallow, of Mesopotamia was cut down in a hail of gunshots while walking along the public road in Montaque, a village in the interior community. 

The killings bring to 35 the number of homicides in SVG this year. Last year, the country recorded a record 42 killings.

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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves speaking in a video from Morocco on Thursday, July 20, 2023.

Gonsalves said:

“The first thing I want to do, of course, is to indicate to our people that we must be calm; we must not panic. We have to be resolute and tight on the criminals,” said Gonsalves, who is also minister of national security.

“There are ramped up measures which have been taken as I speak to you. And for tactical and operational reasons, I can’t say what all those measures are but I want to appeal to the people of St. Vincent and Grenadines, people in the communities, to assist the police with any information you may have.”

Gonsalves said that the police are “on high alert” as are border control officials – Customs and Immigration.

“We have certain leads, I’ve been advised by the police and over the next few days, we will be able to get a better handle as to who and what are responsible for these killings. I want you to know that the government is resolved to get to the bottom of this and to continue to put the safety of our people at the top of our agenda,” the prime minister said.

“This fascination with guns, the guns coming from the United States of America and the ease with which they come in and then it is mixed with drugs and other matters of vanity and all kinds of quest for power through the gun.

“All of these things are an intoxicating mix. We have to look to see whether there are external involvements of one kind or another. But we’ll talk more about those things. We try to get to the bottom of it and be calm. Don’t panic. We are all together in this. We have our values for peace and security.

“These acts of senseless killing, the young males who are involved in these matters must know that it can only end with grief for them as we have seen in this particular case.

“I repeat we have to work together on this, the communities and the police authorities, the law enforcement agencies.”

He said that the political leadership of the country takes its security seriously and he does so personally.

“I want to extend condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. Lives lost, it doesn’t matter which lives, the loss of any life diminishes all human beings in the community.

“I reiterate, however, that we will get to the bottom of this and we will bring the perpetrators to justice. Those who carried out the killings and those who are the authors, even though they didn’t pull the trigger themselves.”

Gonsalves urged the nation to be calm and fortified in spirit, adding, “let us all unite in fighting this terrible danger of criminal violence”.

He said that the acting prime minister will address the nation.

“I know there’s a convocation this morning of the Cabinet, a meeting of the Cabinet. I will make every effort from my schedule to call in when they are meeting,” Gonsalves said, noting the five-hour time difference between Kingstown and Morocco.

“And then of course, as I moved from one appointment to the other in the vehicle, I will be in touch with the acting Prime Minister and the Commissioner of Police. Thank you. Be calm, be safe, be fortified; be cooperative, be helpful. We’re in this together.”

In April, Gonsalves told a regional symposium on crime held in Trinidad that some men have chosen a life of crime because they have to mind pretty, high-maintenance women.

“The fact of the matter is that they are a small minority from the disadvantaged communities from which they come. Most of them, overwhelmingly, have chosen the life of crime. Let us not get away from that,” Gonsalves said.

“They have chosen to be murderers. They have chosen to kill and they do so by and large, because they want to make some easy money, they are in drugs, running crime. Some of them, in order for them to maintain ranks in the community, they get a fascination with guns, they associate with young woman, some cases beautiful young women who are high-maintenance and they have to rob and steal and kill and deal with drugs in order to maintain them,” Gonsalves said.

He said most of these young males who commit crimes drop out from school or fail to take advantage of opportunities available to them and find themselves in a culture of crime in particular communities and form associational criminal groups or gangs.

“That these young males, overwhelmingly, who go to commit serious crimes, violent crimes, it is nobody’s responsibility, primarily other than their own.”

Gonsalves, a lawyer, said that he has never heard anyone offer in court as a defence for murder that they were frustrated or come from a poor home.

“You are responsible. And we tend nowadays when somebody kills another one, ‘is the society’, ‘is the community they come from’,” Gonsalves said.

3 replies on “‘We will get to the bottom of this,’ PM Gonsalves says of mass shooting deaths  ”

  1. Percy Palmer says:

    When Ralph?
    Ralph believes he has the answer and tries to tell the police how they should perform their job. But he’s wrong and needs help and input from the communities. Blaming young men and beautiful women shows how inaccurate are his assessments.
    Then he is calling on churches and schools to stop the crime rate which shows he’s way out of line. Nowhere did I see or hear him mention discipline. When discipline was removed from schools, homes and churches the crime rate increased and hasn’t stopped.
    Isn’t discipline much simpler and easier to implement that the death penalty? Ralph allows the police, senator and even a DPP to commit crime without discipline. You never discipline your son’s behaviour towards the young girl he abused. So what the hell do you expect?
    Don’t forget you started your government with a riot. So Papa Doc what you sow you reap! Don’t even think of having a coronation for Baby Doc. He’s not Vincentian and doesn’t understand Vincentians – just like you Ralph. Everything that happens in SVG is on your watch. Your government brought in chaos and has divided the communities and people of my lovely homeland. You can either step up or step out!

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