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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Killings described as assassinations


17:29 |

 

Gang violence moved from West Bay to George Town on Monday night when teenager Jason Christian became the fourth fatal shooting victim of the week.  A second victim, 22-year-old Keith Montique, was also shot but survived.  Police Chief Superintendent John Jones described how a police patrol officer had been answering an unrelated incident around 9.30pm Monday in Birchwood Drive, off Crewe Road, when an obviously injured Mr. Montique staggered up to the police car and opened the door, saying he had just been shot.  As the officer was transporting the gunshot victim, who had been shot four times, to the Cayman Islands Hospital, the wounded man told him his friend had also been shot and was still in nearby Cranbrook Drive.  When police went to Cranbrook Drive, they found 18-year-old Jason Christian in the driver’s seat of a white Toyota LiteAce van. He had suffered a gunshot wound to the head. Mr. Jones said he was “barely alive” when police arrived, but died very shortly afterwards and was pronounced dead at the scene.  Mr. Jones described Monday night’s killing, and three earlier fatal shootings in West Bay, as “assassinations”. All four victims who have been killed this week were shot in the head.  Mr. Montique underwent emergency surgery at the Cayman Islands Hospital on Monday night and was airlifted off island for further medical treatment Tuesday. He had also been shot in the head, receiving an injury to his ear.   Medical staff at the hospital 
described his condition as “serious, but stable”.  Police said no suspects were found at the scene in Cranbrook Drive, but officers recovered a loaded revolver inside the van. It had not been fired.  At least 10 spent shells have been found at the scene of the killing. Police said Monday night’s shooting may be related to the three killings in West Bay, but said it was too early to say definitively if that was the case. “There are connections between the individuals who were victims of this shooting and with certain people affiliated to gangs or groups in the West Bay area,” Mr. Jones said. “Given the timing, so close to the other three shootings that we’ve had, we think there is a strong possibility that it may be connected.” Preston Rivers, 18, was shot dead near Thatch Palm Villas on Andersen Road in West Bay about 10.30pm Saturday. On Thursday, Andrew Anthony Baptist, 24, was gunned down shortly before 9pm Thursday in a yard of a house on Sand Hole Road in West Bay. Two days earlier, Robert Macford Bush, 28, was shot in the head as he sat in his car on Captains Joe and Osbert Road on Tuesday night.  “To have four murders in such a short period of time is unprecedented for the Cayman Islands,” Mr. Jones said.  Crimestoppers has offered a $50,000 reward for information on these killings and other robberies and gun-related crimes seen in Cayman recently.  He said Mr. Montique had told police that he and Mr. Christian had gone into Cranbook Drive to visit a premises there, but when they got there, the person they were looking for was not there. “After that, it would appear that a gunman approached from bush and fired several shots at Mr. Montique and his friend, who attempted to drive away,” Mr. Jones said.  Police said the white van at the scene had featured in their investigations into an armed robbery at Tortuga Liquor Store in Pasadora Place on Thursday, 15 September. “Whilst that vehicle was not seen to be used by the suspects in that robbery, it did feature in a line of inquiry,” Mr. Jones said.  The shootings in George Town Monday occurred just hours after Commissioner of Police David Baines said gang members who they were seeking in West Bay had moved out of areas they usually frequented.  Police continue to appeal to the public to give them information relating to the shootings, but also to let them know who has weapons in their possession and if further attacks are planned. Mr. Jones said police were rounding up known members of gangs. They mounted an operation on Monday afternoon to target those who they suspect are involved in gangs and have arrested four people in connection with gang affiliation.   A further two people also remain in custody who were arrested in connection with the West Bay murders. A third person who had been arrested in connection with the killings has been released.   Detective Superintendent Marlon Bodden said he was angered that people were now sending police photographs that had appeared on social media like Facebook, of victims of the killings holding firearms.  “We are inundated now with various photographs, various emails, various bits of information extracted from social media, pictures of individuals holding guns. Now, if we had this information before that, I’m very certain we could make some interventions and saved some lives,” Mr. Bodden said.  He said police were pushing for legislation under which they could prosecute people for brandishing firearms in photographs. “We want legislation to be enacted that those individuals prove, the burden of proof is shifted for them to say I was not holding a real firearm... We want to be able to charge them and deal with them because they are the individuals causing the havoc here in the Cayman Islands,” he said.


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