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Commissioner of Police, Colin John in a July 20, 2023 photo.
Commissioner of Police, Colin John in a July 20, 2023 photo.
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The Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force has cancelled all vacation and no-pay leave for officers until further notice as the constabulary tries to prevent possible reprisals following the mass murder of five people in a shooting in Kingstown Wednesday night.

A circular issued on Thursday said that the gazetted officers also decided to restructure the leave system for police officers.

Divisional commanders were ordered to inform ranks under their command, said the circular issued by Commissioner of Police, Colin John.

Separately on Thursday, the police chief told a joint press conference with acting Prime Minister Montgomery Daniel and other members of the Cabinet that the police force had received intelligence “about possible reprisals.

“And that is something that we are taking very seriously. We’re also taking this shooting, these fatalities very seriously, as we do with every crime, especially serious crimes within St. Vincent Grenadines,” John said.

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He said that police intelligence suggests that some of the killings in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) are linked and the majority of major crimes are committed by fewer than 100 people.

“… less than 100 persons in a population of over 110,000 persons. So that’s a small group of persons. And also, based on our intel, these shootings, the majority of them, they as a result of something that … happened since 2014, where some drug transaction went wrong and then persons who are friends then became foe and then it continued up to today,” John said as he attempted to assure the country that is residents are “generally safe”.

John said that the police had acted on that intelligence “so much so that some persons who were killed last night, we had spoken to them before and that … assisted in preserving their lives up to last night, based on proactive policing”.

The police chief said that about 8 p.m. Wednesday night, police received a report of gunshots in the Harbour Club area, located towards the eastern end of Kingstown, near the Grenadines Wharf.

When officers responded, they met four people who appeared to be dead and a fifth was transported to hospital for medical attention.

“At the end of the night, five persons were pronounced dead by the doctor,” John said.

Kingstown 5
The five people shot and killed in Kingstown Wednesday night. From left: Lamont “Dutchie” Hector, Jamal “Dutty” Bobb, Dondre Hillocks, Ricky Taylor, and Kashie Primus.

Lamont Hector aka “Dutchie”, of Paul’s Avenue; Jamal “Dutty” Bobb, of Ottley Hall; Dondre Hillocks, of Long Wall; Ricky Taylor, of Long Wall, died at the scene while Kashie Primus, a 13-year-old student, of Long Wall, died in hospital.

iWitness News was reliably informed that all of the men who died at the scene received gunshot wounds to the head, as well as about their body.

This gives credence to the theory that the assailants first opened fire with an assault weapon then shot the men in their heads as they lay wounded, on the ground. 

The police chief said he had heard a voice note alleging that the killings were as a result of a criminal interaction between people in SVG and overseas and suggesting that more shootings would take place.

“Well, I have heard the voice note. And we are following all leads. This investigation is into its infancy at this stage. And we are following every lead. So, it’s something that we are checking out,” John said.

Meanwhile, a source with military training who listened to a recording of the shooting, told iWitness News that it appeared that it was done using an assault weapon and a powerful handgun.

John said:

“Based on the crime scene, an assault weapon appears to have been used. And as I said, notwithstanding that, I can guarantee that persons in St. Vincent are generally safe.”

He said that nowhere in the world is totally safe, hence his “proviso that generally speaking, we’re safe.

“We’ll have the isolated incidents as it was, and we’re nowhere trivialising it. And we are concerned about persons’ feelings and person’s perception, hence, the police, we are putting things in place to allay those fears, and to mitigate against those situations occurring in the future.”

He defended the police force against criticisms that it was slow to react to the shooting.

John said that a senior officer responded quickly to the scene and was “able to give us pertinent information as to what may have transpired at the time”.

Shooting scene
The shooting scene was peppered with bullets, apparently fired from an assault weapon.

Sources in the know have told iWitness News that a law enforcement officer, who was relatively close by, heard the gunshots and was about to respond to the scene when a white SUV in which the assailants are believed to have been travelling, came speeding down the road.

The officer gave chase in his private vehicle but is said to have lost the vehicle after a minibus swung into the traffic at the Peace Memorial Hall — presumably inadvertently — causing the SUV to escape.

John did not disclose whether the police had identified or taken into custody the vehicle that was seen and filmed driving away from the scene immediately after the shooting.

“Well, that is something that I will not divulge at this moment. Sorry.”

There have been shootings in different parts of SVG over recent months, including in Arnos Vale, Rillan Hill, Marriaqua, Golden Vale, Georgetown and in Kingstown.

“Yes, some of them that are linked to each other,” John said, adding that the homicides across the country are “at various stages of investigation, based on the evidence that we have, the statements that we have so far.

“The process will be, once we collect the statements, we’ll discuss it with the office of the DPP and the DPP would give us advice or opinion as to the way forward.”

There were reports that civilians picked up shell casings at the scene on Thursday morning, hours after police had processed and left the scene of the shooting.

John said:

“Well, the person from the Forensic Department of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, they went and they processed the scene. When they were satisfied, the scene was cleared, the persons from the funeral home came and removed the bodies.

“The calibre of weapon that was used, it is very possible that shells may have been spread in different areas. And when the police left there last night, it was dark. So, it’s not, in my opinion, anything significant, or any significant breach on the police part that a shell was found on the scene this morning.”

He did not divulge the number of shell casings that were recovered at the scene, saying this “may be a subject of a court matter”

John told the media on Thursday that police had intensified their efforts and would continue to do so to ensure that the criminals are brought to justice.

“We would be utilising tried-and-tested methods in order to make sure that the people of St. Vincent and Grenadines, they are not only safe, but the perception that they are safe. Because as we know, in a lot of cases, the perception is worse than the reality,” the police chief said.

four killed in Kingstown
The scene in Kingstown where the four men were shot and killed on Wednesday, July 19, 2023.

He said police officers would be more visible on the streets of the country and the public might encounter some inconveniences as a result of police operations.

“But we ask persons to understand and we also ask persons with information relating to this mass murder to come forward and provide police with information,” John said.

“The police, with all of its technology and intel, cannot solve crime on its own.  So, we covet the cooperation of the public in order to successfully solve these particular crimes and other crimes.”

The killings Wednesday night brought the homicide count this year to 35 — seven of which were recorded in about 36 hours.

John said that 32 of the homicides this year can be classified as murders, noting that there were additional police-related shootings.

“It is not a good statistic. And the police, we have gone back to the drawing board. We have looked at ways in which we can improve what we are doing. We have implemented certain policies within the organisation. I will not go into the details as regards them at this moment,” he said, adding that criminals might also be listening to the press conference.

“But I just want to give the public the assurance that St. Vincent is a safe place, notwithstanding what has taken place.”

He said that the police force was doing all it can, within its powers, “to ensure that persons continue to be safe in St. Vincent and Grenadines and that also the perception that persons are safe”.

14 replies on “SVG police bracing for reprisals following mass murder”

  1. It looks like no one is safe anymore, not even their own home, lord almighty look at what S V G has come too, all this will only stop people from coming home, a lot of my friends already said so, ALL WE HAVE TO SAY IS, FATHER COME DOWN WE ALL NEED HELP

  2. Ralph Gonsalves and his hapless Police Commissioner need to be removed from public office expeditiously!

  3. Urlan Alexander says:

    The amount of times the CoP talked about safe as if he was trying to make me as a vincentian think that am safe . In reality though I am scared to death. Colin John your utterances does not give me any hope. You have failed miserably as CoP.

  4. Mr Colin John havein being sitting in a blind man chair,2014 -2023 you really think gangster will wait that long Mr John when guns are much easier to get…you and the pm have clue how to deal with the crime situation and the criminal know that..wake up john..cutting officers of vacation mean what john?????

  5. Thd Commissioner takes his queue from the PM who knows everything there is to know about everything. These crimes are being perpetrated by people who grew up under the watchful eyes and guidance of our all knowing leader. What went wrong? How come Vincentians are perishing amd we have a leader who’s a visionary? He knows everything there is to know and runs a one man show with his happy little puppets .

  6. Can the police stop gready men from going and thiefing ppl drugs … I’m only sorry for the teen he wasn’t supposed to be there with that company
    .. they can be all over at the same time plus if they are providing with Good resources n all there’s things it would have been better y r the cameras on the streets if u can’t use dem in times like these

  7. Take warning says:

    After reassuring us that we are still in a safe place, now coming and scaring us by saying bracing ? And if you know it a small about 100 people involved, then why not deal with this small group? Why not go ino these small group homes with weapons to search ? Is it only the peaceful demonstrators you all
    h ave intolerance for? There’s a spy in the sky whether you believe it or not.

  8. The Police Commissioner’s comments are laughable, just as his tenure in that position. The people in St. Vincent have absolutely no confidence in the police because of their glaring ineptitude and gross incompetence. Those gross maladies was on full display with the Commissioner of Police himself. It is time to appoint a new police commissioner, someone who actually knows police work, an outsider. The current crop of police leadership in St. Vincent appears to be clueless of what it means to have an effective police force to combat the growing crisis of crime in St. Vincent. If you are serious about the growing threat of crimes in St. Vincent, then is is time to look elsewhere, Ralph.

  9. U can’t see d man hand tie. He is just a no-brainer, a figure head. All these high positions r hand pick, square pegs in round hole, that is to make sure one man have all d say.

  10. Percy Palmer says:

    It took the police some time to secure the scene which show how incompetent they are. How could they miss a bullet if the scene was thoroughly searched?
    I saw folks walking around at the scene and even getting the shoes in the blood on the ground. That’s not how a murdered scene is made secure.
    Then the commissioner echoed the word “safe” several times, but no one believes him. I also don’t believe the police man who said another vehicle block him from perusing the white SUV. Did he record the number plate of the vehicle? He definitely could have passed the van to continue the chase.
    The actions of the murderer(s) shows he/they were not afraid of getting caught. Are some police involved? Just asking!

  11. Julian Charles says:

    The Commissioner is now the laughing stork of Vincentians what looking at what he is saying with disdain abd having no interest in what he is saying. His words are not to be trusted

  12. I strongly recommend that a crime hotline be set up and manned by civilians and not by Police. Then the information should only be shared with to who it may concern and not the entire parrot force.
    Let’s take back SVG from the criminals. Cut back on the very dark tinting of vehicles especially the front and front windows:

  13. Again svg is damaged goods seems like. Rehabilitation seems impossible more so under this regime.

    The only hope is to turn to the Creator of all things.

  14. The police complaint bureau is staffed by policemen have have a vested interest in preserving the sratus quo. How can one trust the fox to guard the henhouse? The Fox can never be a true guardian of the hen house by its very nature. It has a partisan interest in this regard.

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