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Law Enforcement 26 Feb, 2024 1 Comments Follow News

Commissioner Kurt Watlon

By Staff Writer

A reward of CI$250,000 is being put up for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Sunday night’s shooting incident at a football game in which seven persons were shot.

This was underlined in a direct appeal by Her Excellency Governor Jane Owen during a press conference on Monday afternoon as the authorities intensify investigations into what Police Commissioner Kurt Walton called an “unprecedented” development in criminal activity in Cayman.

“I would appeal to all of you out there, if you have information that you think can help us to stop these kinds of events happening - we need to make sure it will not happen again - if you have information however small please come and share it with us.”

Hon. Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly declared: “This level of violence is not normal, neither is it acceptable.  And you don’t have to be an avid supporter of the government. You just have to be a lover of human beings and have that respect for life.”

In an impassioned appeal, she also urged anyone with information to come forward. “Please do the best service ever and come forward to the Commissioner and those he may have delegated to receive information so that we can do as we’ve done in so many different things,” she added pointing to other situations where the people of the Cayman Islands have come together to resolve challenging situations.

“This level of violence is not normal in our beloved Cayman Islands and will not be tolerated,” she had declared earlier in Parliament on Monday and which she re-emphasised during Monday’s press conference. The Premier had said in the previous statement in Parliament that she was “deeply troubled” by what she called “this brazen violence.”

With police investigations at a heightened level, Police Commissioner Kurt Walton said they are pursuing several lines of inquiry which are initially pointing to a gang-related incident.

He called Sunday evening’s shooting - now being reported in the international media - as “unprecedented” in the Cayman Islands and said they are working on a hypothesis that the shooter is one individual.

The Commissioner said their ongoing intelligence is also suggesting that there might be a possible merger of several gangs with about 40 people involved which is thought to be exacerbating the problem.

The shocking incident is the latest in a spate of violent offences, several involving firearms.

In a united front Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Her Excellency Governor Jane Owen and Hon. Opposition Leader Roy McTaggart addressed the seriousness of the matter.

“I can tell you this government in this plurality inclusive of the Opposition will have zero tolerance for this type of behaviour in this jurisdiction...Crime is everybody’s business.”

Opposition Leader Roy McTaggart stated: “This was something that we hoped would have never happened in Cayman, but yes it happened. It’s a different set of circumstances, a different ballgame that we are dealing today.” He too urged anyone with information to come forward.

Premier O’Connor-Connolly assured that resources required by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) were being made available to support them in their efforts to clamp down on the worrying upsurge in criminal activity.

While the option for direct UK assistance was brought up, the authorities felt it was not necessary at this stage but opportunities for further training and collaboration will be pursued.

Speaking about the community impact of Sunday night’s shooting, Governor Owen remarked: “I do recognize the very serious level of concern and distress that this tragic incident yesterday at the Ed Bush Football Center West Bay has caused. it is hard to imagine how alarming it would have been to have been and my heart goes out to all of you who witnessed that and especially as I know, there were a lot of families there and people with small children,” she said, acknowledging the concern as a mother herself.

The Governor addressed the cross-agency effort within government to address the crime problem and spoke of the need for better awareness about weapons entering the territory. Legislation and enforcement are being reviewed in that respect.

“The awareness of how are these guns, particularly these dangerous guns, these big guns getting into our islands. We need better awareness of that. What does the legislation provide? The legislation is certainly an area we will be looking at again and of course, enforcement, where we are lucky to have an extremely competent and well-trained police force, not just the officers who are out there, but the investigators and the detectives and the ballistics unit and everybody behind them. So we are lucky to have that but it will only be successful if we work together.”

Addressing the broad issue of security and community safety, in response to a question from Caymanian Times, Police Commissioner Walton gave this assurance:

“We’ll be looking at disruptive patrols. We’ve heightened patrols and the hotspot areas and that will continue.”

Governor Owen added: “We are aware that that the rise in this kind of gang or group-related activity in general criminality. That means that we need to look in the longer term and this is something that the police commissioner and I, and colleagues around the Cabinet table, have been looking at very seriously. How do we prevent this continuing to escalate, which means working with colleagues in Education and Health and Mental Health the Probation services, etc. We will speed up that activity to make sure that we have clear policies to tackle it.”

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John Felder

29 Feb, 2024

I continue to call the Cayman Islands my 2nd home and the recent mass shootings in this safe and beautiful Island really got my attention. As an American where mass shootings have become the norm, I applaud the Cayman Islands government for their quick response and $250,000 will get a response. If you see something, say something. I pray that all the victims of this senseless act continue to recuperate and return home to their families soon. While the injuries will heal, the emotional and psychological pain will last forever. I know because I lost my Father and only son to gun violence.
John Felder