By Monique Washington
With no gun manufacturing in the Federation, the number of homicides committed using a firearm reached more than 20 this week with the death of a Hanley’s Road juvenile.
Authorities confiscated more than 20 illegal firearms from the Federation’s streets, yet crimes committed with firearms have still increased.
On Tuesday evening, 16-year-old Ozanny ‘Gunnis’ Maynard of Hanley’s Road, was gunned down while with his friends in ‘England,’ Rawlins Village Nevis. The Observer understands four or five shots were heard and the youth was struck multiple times. The juvenile just finished school in July and would have graduated from the Gingerland Secondary School in November. His death marks the 24th homicide in the Federation, six less at the end of 2015.
During the 2016 criminal assizes in St. Kitts and Nevis, between January and May 80 cases have been pending in St. Christopher and Nevis assizes criminal assizes with no murder convictions.
With the increase in the number of gun-related crimes in the Federation, former Commissioner of Police Calvin Fahie told The Observer, “The evolution of crime will always be there.” The former commissioner pointed out that the Federation, as well as other islands, have unprotected borders which lead to a high level of smuggling of illegal firearms and drugs.
“Our borders are open,” Fahie said. “The guns are traveling with the drugs and vice versa. Crime in any form, especially firearm trafficking can create a disadvantage to our country and our community.”
Hezron Wade, who has kept statistics on homicides in the Federation since 2007, notes there have been 232 documented murders, 181 on St. Kitts and 51 on Nevis in the 46,000 twin island Federation population.
According to Wade’s statistics, 20- to 29-year-old males commit 42 percent (98) of the deaths; 10-to 19-year-old youths commit 20 percent (46) of the deaths; and 30 to 39 year-old males commit 15 percent (34) of the deaths. Gun-related deaths accounted for 83 percent (192), 11 percent (25) are knife-related and 6 percent are categorized as other.
Fahie explained that fighting crime does not lie solely on the police, but involves persons coming forward and assisting by telling what they know about crimes.
“Until we can come to the realization that crime affects everybody, we are not really going to be moving forward,” Fahie said. “Many of us feel like anytime we hear about crime the police are involved. We need to face the reality that when some crimes are committed there are no police in the area. Police have to depend on witnesses and technology.”
“I believe we are lacking in developing and fostering trust from the public so that as soon as anything happens the public can come forward and say what they saw, what they observed and who they suspect did it,” he said. “Then the police will be able to do their best.”
Fahie noted that during his tenure as a police officer, the level of crime was not as high as it is today, but there were not as many firearms.
“With fewer firearms a policeman’s job was a lot easier,” Fahie explained. “Most crimes involved either a knife or club, now with 20 crimes involving firearms there is a huge difference.”