By Shanique Richards

St. Kitts Reporter

It has been a week of terrible sadness as several families have suffered the loss of their loved ones as they visit them at the morgue while others patiently watch them struggle for dear life on their hospital beds.

Over the last few days there have been shootouts on five different occasions and one stabbing which ended in the death of three young men and four in critical conditions at the J.N. France Hospital. All shootouts seem to be following the same pattern as they were all drive-bys involving masked attackers.

On Sunday morning around 1am, Javez ‘Choppa’ Caines, 21, of Gardens Housing Project succumbed to injuries caused by gunshot wounds which he sustained around 10pm on Saturday November 24. Caines was said to be shot five times with two bullets to his head and three in his upper and lower abdomen.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that Caines and some friends were sitting around a domino table in Lower Fiennes Avenue near the Big Steps in the Mc Knight area. Apparently two masked assailants rushed over to Caines, aimed a gun at his head and began shooting. He was rushed to the J. N. France Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries early Sunday morning.

A blind lady sitting in the area around the domino table heard the gunshots and had a panic attack as she was in shock, being unable to see what was happening and in which direction she must flee. The woman almost died as her blood pressure escalated to over 400 as she was terrified by the gunshots. Sheremains at the J.N. France Hospital where she is currently being treated.

Another murder which occurred on Sunday evening around 8pm is also being investigated as Terrance ‘De Whale’ Francis, 38, who resided in Nevis, died of machete wounds to his body in the Camps area. According to an autopsy report which was performed on Tuesday morning, Francis’ death was caused by hypovolemic shock as a result of a stab wound to the neck.

Sources revealed that Francis and his wife were separated and she became involved with a young man carrying the same name, Terrance. It was reported that on the night of his death, Francis received a call from his wife stating that the boyfriend had allegedly beaten her up and it was when he arrived at her home in Camps he engaged in a brawl with the boyfriend which ended in the fatal stabbing.

Police are investigating both matters and have indicated that so far no witnesses have come forward to assist in Caines’ murder. However, on Tuesday 27, Terrance ‘Wang’ Browne was arrested and charged for the murder of Terrance Francis.

Damian Dias, 26, alias ‘QB’ and ‘Big Talker’ was gunned down at lower Pitcairne Street, Newtown around 10pm on Tuesday evening. It is believed that he and his friends were hanging out at thejunction between Pitcairne Street and George Street, Newtown. It was then two masked assailants drove by on a motorbike and opened fire and Dias received two gunshot wounds to his head at close range.

The young man’s life came to an unfortunate end shortly after arriving at the J.N. France Hospital. Dias was a father of two: a three-year-old daughter whose birthday was the day after he died and a son who will be four years old in December. He was also regarded as a famous local rapper and made several albums over the past five years. Our source suggested that this incident appeared to be retaliation for the unsolved murder of Javez Caines as the attackers did not appear to be trying to seek out anyone in particular.

However, later that evening, Crispin ‘Zukas’ Crossley was rushed to the J. N. France Hospital as he was said to have been shot in the Mc Knight area at a junction between Fort Thomas Road and Tibou Avenue. Unconfirmed reports have indicated that the Crossley’s attackers were seeking revenge for the death of Dias.

In addition, it was reported that on Wednesday evening three masked assailants drove by the Market Street area and opened fire leaving Glenville England of the Village area injured. England was said to be in good condition after receiving minor injuries described as an abrasion on his left hand.

Sources also stated that after the masked men realized that England’s injuries were not too serious they invaded a nearby restaurant, Shamari, and began pointing guns around to seek out another victim. It was said that no one else was injured that evening.

However, the following day, Thursday 29, around 9am, Sherlon Cannonier of Neverson Street, East Newtown was shot by masked assailants near his home. Sources say that Cannonier received three shots, one to his back and two in his hand. Cannonier is in critical condition at the J.N. France hospital but is said to be stable for the time being.

Official records indicate that Javez Caines, Terrance Francis, and Damian Dias are now listed as the 14th, 15th, and 16th murders in the year 2007 which almost matches to the 17 murders in 2006. It was also indicated that 14 guns have been recovered from the streets so far for 2007, compared to 8 last year.

Minister of National Security, Hon G.A. Dwyer Astaphan, held a press conference on Tuesday in response to the rise in crime over the past few weeks. During the conference the Minister outlined several corrective measures to be taken by Security Forces to control incidents of crime and violence. Some of the matters discussed were young men wearing ëhoodiesí, bags on their backs and a number of scarves about their bodies. It was stated that security forces will be looking closely at vehicles tinted beyond the legal limit, the expansion of the K-9 Unit to sweep any part of St. Kitts and Nevis at any time, in the confines of the law, increasing the number of substance searches.