Despite eight arrests for the shootings that took place at Martin Drive and Vic’s Bar on Seymour Road in recent weeks, the RCIPS are still appealing for witnesses to come forward and give clear and concise evidence as to what they saw and then be prepared to give that evidence in a court of law. Witnesses should not be afraid to give evidence as the RCIPS would be able to protect them, if need be. Putting the gun men away would make Cayman the safe and secure place the public has always known, the RCIPS said.
Talking to the Caymanian Times, Peter Lansdown, Detective Superintendent, Major Crime, with the RCIPS, conceded it had been an extremely busy two weeks for the police, starting with the tragic shooting on Martin Drive, followed by the next shooting at Vic’s Bar on Seymour Drive. Police were working non-stop, having set up two separate teams working in one incident room to track down the perpetrators, he advised.
“We are totally committed to stopping these incidents and catching the people responsible,” he said. “We’ve had some successes. We’re hoping we have managed to slow these incidents down to and trying to prevent future events.”
Det Supt Lansdown said the RCIPS had received a lot of intelligence but not enough of the right type of evidence they needed to ensure the perpetrators were successfully prosecuted and punished.
“We’ve got a lot of information. We’ve got a lot of people who want to tell us what happened or what they heard has happened, so we are confident that we’ve got the information. The problem is we’ve got very few people willing to stand up and be witnesses and give evidence,” he stated.
Although eight people had been arrested and some evidence had been recovered, without witness evidence telling the police what happened and be willing to do that in a court of law meant the police had problems charging people and getting them through the court process.
“We will protect witnesses. To convince them, we have got systems in place that work and they’ve worked over a number of years. We can protect witnesses, if they need to be,” he said.
He pleaded with witnesses to trust the RCIPS.
“We can do the right thing. We can protect the communities of Cayman if people come forward and do the right thing for themselves, for their friends, their colleagues and for the community. If people stand up against these gunmen, we can stop this from continuing,” he confirmed.
Det Supt Lansdown said that there had been a “dramatic escalation” in the type of violent weapons that had been used in these incidences.
“Without doubt, we think the Seymour Road shooting involved a fully automatic weapon. We think it’s probably a hand gun that allows for automatic capability. We’ve recovered 9mm cases from virtually all of the scenes. We’ve got forensic analysis of those on going,” he said.
While there had definitely been an escalation in gun violence in recent weeks, Det Supt Lansdown felt the problem was a cyclical one.
“When I came here six years ago, we had a similar problem, not quite as bad, but we managed to stop it. We reduced gun crime by 50-60% for a number of years and we recovered a number of firearms a few years ago over a period. I’m confident we are going to do the same again, but there has obviously been a route, a method of getting new firearms into the country,” he warned.
Some of the firearms that had been used in these recent instances did not appear on the RCIPS’s used database of firearms so they would not have come up in other crimes, so it would appear there were new weapons, but he said he was confident they would find them eventually.
“We need the public’s help. If anyone has information anyone knows who these people are who are messing around with guns, they need to tell us good reliable information and we will recover those guns and make the islands safer again,” he said.
People were at risk by doing nothing, the detective superintendent said.
“If they do something, we can protect them if we have to and we are very well versed at managing risk. If we know there’s a risk, we can put protective measures in place. We can stop this spiral of violence; we can protect people, but we have to catch the people responsible and get the information and the evidence. Letting these people stay on the streets increases the risk against everybody, so it just isn’t the answer to not doing anything. The answers is, to come to us and trust us that we can protect you. We’ve done it for years we will continue to do it.”
There would be an increased police presence in the coming days, including firearms, uniform and covert teams covering what he termed the “hotpots” and covering all the difficult, challenging areas where the incidents occurred. People should not be scared and should still go out but should avoid the areas and establishments which attracted the wrong sort of people, he confirmed.
Det Supt Lansdown concluded:
“I appeal to the public to do the right thing, stand up and be counted and let us protect you if you need it. If you do the right thing and take these people off the streets, we will return to peace and normality.”