|The sounds of explosive fireworks have led to reports being called in to the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force as gunfire, according to a police official.
Police PRO Inspector Vaughan Henderson spoke exclusively with The Observer, indicating that police had responded to several reports of gunshots that turned out to be persons igniting ‘bombs.’
“We have had a number of reports recently of persons calling the police saying people are firing guns. When the police officers turn up at the scene and conduct investigations, most have turned out to be persons playing with explosive fireworks,” he said.
In light of the November 5 Guy Fawkes celebrations in the Federation, Inspector Henderson reminded the public that a temporary ban on explosive pyrotechnics was in effect. He said the purpose of the ban was to remove the cover that some persons use to discharge illegal firearms in public places.
“The police wish to inform the general public that a temporary ban on all explosive fireworks (bombs), especially those associated with Guy Fawkes celebrations, shall have immediate effect. We are well aware of the challenges we are facing with firearm-related crimes, and criminals are using the Guy Fawkes celebration period to mask their illegal activities,” he said.
Henderson encouraged persons to report anyone seen selling the contraband items.
“We are appealing for assistance from the general public in giving police information on people who are breaking the law, and in this instance, people violating the temporary restriction on the importation of these explosive fireworks,” he said.
The PRO revealed that the Customs Department was on heightened alert with regard the importation ban, and that the Police High Command had written to a number of vendors indicating specific items that they are not allowed to import.
“Bringing in these banned fireworks is classified as illegal importation of (banned material) because we don’t manufacture them here, so there is only one way to get them. That would mean someone made a false declaration at one of the legal ports, and that is an offence,” he warned.
Inspector Henderson did not reveal any specific punitive actions to be taken in regard to persons found selling the illegal pyrotechnics. However, he did note that the items would be confiscated by police.
The fireworks ban was first implemented a few years ago after two homicides occurred during Guy Fawkes celebrations – two males were shot and killed, one at St. Johnson Avenue, and the other at the Green Tree Housing Project.