Increased criminal activities force Police High Command to suspend time-off and vacation

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Top - MURDER VICTIMS: (From left) – Antonio Richardson, Uriel Michael and Willis Phillip Bottom - MoneyGram office (L) and Gillard’s Gas Station

By LR Liburd

The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer 

With the shooting-death of three young men in as many days, the wounding of four others and the armed robbery of a money transfer company as well as a gas station, the High Command has suspended all rest days, vacation and leave for officers of the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force.

According to Deputy Commissioner Hilroy Brandy, who at the time of this declaration was Acting Commissioner in the absence of Ian Queeley, said, “All officers have been recalled to their stations and training at the Police Training Centre has been suspended in an effort to ensure greater presence on our streets in Basseterre, Charlestown and in our communities.”

Sometime after 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday (May 18), police had found the body of 29-year-old Antonio Richardson lying in his home with a bullet wound to the forehead and he was pronounced dead by District Medical Officer Dr. Reginald O’Loughlin.

Some 14 hours after, 32-year-old Jahbal David Henry of Upper Cayon was shot to his right hand while walking in the company of a female in the direction of Water Works, Cayon in the vicinity of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

And shortly after 8:00 p.m. on Friday (May 22), two men were killed and three others wounded following a shooting incident in Saddler’s Village.

The names of the two deceased were given as 23-year-old Uriel Michael and Willis Phillip (22), both of Saddler’s Village.

Reports reaching The Observer stated that the five men were among a large group in the vicinity of a popular hangout spot in Saddler’s Village when a number of gunmen stealthily approached and fired multiple shots at them.

It was learnt that they were transported to the Joseph N France General Hospital where the two men were pronounced dead.

The Observer also learnt that while one of the young men was grazed by a bullet and another suffered a broken arm, the third victim was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. At press time, the latter victim was still hospitalised, but the former were both treated for their injuries and discharged.

It was further learnt that there might have been more deaths if the wounded men and a few others had not scale a neighbouring fence to escape the onslaught.

The death of these three young men has taken the number of homicides in the Federation for the year to 14; 11 were committed in St. Kitts and three in Nevis. However, while 13 of them died as a result of gunshot injuries, one resulted from a stabbing incident.

In relation to the robberies, both of them occurred on Friday, last, with the first being the MoneyGram office at Port Zante.

The Observer was told that at about 8:00 a.m. when an employee had opened the door of the office to commence business for the day, two armed men among five customers had barged into the building, forced the customers into an area along with the staff and robbed the money transfer company of an undisclosed sum of cash before making good their escape.

A release from the entity’s representative informed that images of the bandits were caught on security cameras and police are reviewing the tapes with the hope of identifying them.

The release also informed that the gunmen appeared to be between 25 and 30 years old and one of them was wearing a baseball cap with a Seattle Mariners logo, a white shirt and dark long pants, while the other bandit had donned a cap, a sunshades, sneakers, dark clothing and was carrying a backpack.

The second armed robbery took place around 2:00 p.m. at Gillard’s Gas Station, situated at the junction of the Island’s Main Road and the Democrat Road in the vicinity of the Joseph N France General Hospital.

The Observer was told that while two employees of the gas station were standing outside the building that houses the cash register and petroleum products, among other things on sale, they were approached by an unidentified male sporting sunshades and whose face was partly covered by his shirt.

He also carried a pistol in his waist and ordered the employees to accompany him into the building, where they were forced to hand over an undisclosed sum of cash to him.

After collecting the money, it was reported that the bandit took a few bottles of lubricants off the shelves before making good his escape.

The High Command’s decision to suspend all vacation and time-off came after these killings, wounding and robber incidents were committed. However, this did not deter a bandit or bandits from engaging in their nefarious activities, as their next target was the FedEx Courier Services warehouse at the C.A. Paul Southwell Industrial Site.

It was reported that sometime between Saturday and Sunday (May 21-22) the warehouse was burglarised and the bandits “had access” to a number of packages stored within.

This media house learned that the bandits had gained access to the warehouse by removing some zinc sheets from the outside.

Police, at that time, had reported that FedEx staff members were reviewing the courier services inventory in order to identify missing items, if any.

While no one has so far been held for the shooting incidents and the Gillard’s Gas Station armed robbery as well as the FexEx Courier Services burglary, police have informed that three men are in custody in relation to the MoneyGram robbery. They are also seeking the public’s assistance in bringing the perpetrators to justice as investigations are ongoing.

Despite not being successful, so far, in bringing these matters to a closure, the police had however removed another illegal firearm and a quantity of ammunition off the Federation’s streets.

Early Monday morning (May 23), a police search operation in the New Road area resulted in the find of a .45mm pistol with seven rounds of matching ammunition and a quantity of marijuana.

Two suspects were in custody, but at press time it was not known if charges were preferred against them.

The seizure of the .45mm pistol has taken to 10 the number of firearms taken off the streets of St. Kitts and Nevis for the year.

The police are therefore calling on citizens and residents who may they have information pertaining to any crime committed in the Federation or are aware of an impending one, to contact any police station or call its confidential hotline, Crime Stoppers, at 1-800-8477(TIPS).