The Central Leeward town of Layou had not recorded a murder since 2018 and within the span of six weeks, four men have been gunned down.
The most recent shooting death occurred on the night before the November 24th ‘Love is the Answer’ peace march and rally, organized by police, was scheduled to take place.
Assistant Superintendent of Police Nigel Butcher said in the past, Layou has not been regarded as a criminal hotspot. “The vast majority of the residents in Layou are law-abiding citizens,” Butcher told residents at Friday’s rally.
He disclosed that up to present, the community has seen a 7.4 per cent reduction in reported crimes for 2023 when compared to the same period last year. Despite the slight decrease, ASP Butcher said he still was not satisfied with the numbers. He appealed to residents to stop sheltering criminals from the law.
“Since 2018, the community of Layou has not recorded a single murder until this year… we have recorded four in the last six weeks. This bloodshed has to stop … stop sheltering these criminals, stop covering for them. If you see or know something, say something.”
Investigations by SEARCHLIGHT suggest that the killings may be part of an ongoing dispute with possible ties to incidences of violence throughout the rest of the country.
The deceased are Jimodean “Jim” Sam, who was shot and chopped reportedly by two men on November 23; Leon Gaymes who was shot at least six times on November 18 and died on his way to hospital; Tambu Patrick, shot and killed on November 5; and on October 15, Delarno Kyle Corney Patrick was shot and killed in the Middle Street. In the near-by community of Buccament, Jervarny “Luche” Baptiste was shot on September 7 while on his way to a construction site at Sandals resort.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Frankie Joseph, asked Layou residents not to take matters into their own hands, but rather to use the resources available in the Force.
“I am not asking the community of Layou to be vigilantes because the police does not support being vigilantes. What are asking is to partner with police.”
Deputy Commissioner Joseph addressed concerns raised by residents at the rally about the lack of confidentiality among officers.
“For years we have been fighting that battle… we need to lift our game when it comes to confidentiality. If we are not confidential, we are putting persons’ lives and their families’ lives at risk.”
He informed residents as to the procedure for giving information to police, telling them that if an officer asks them to disclose any personal information, end the call.
“You can call any police station and give any information that you have. The police is not supposed to ask your name, telephone number or where you are calling from. What is important is not your identity, it is the information. If you call to give information and the police officer asks you your name or telephone number- hang up the phone.”
The rally was also addressed by Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr Ralph Gonsalves as well as area representative, Dr Orande Brewster.