Suspects arrested

Royal Cayman Police said yesterday five people suspected in a series of recent shootings have been arrested.

Leave has also been cancelled for all officers in order to beef up the force’s island-wide presence.

In a statement released late yesterday afternoon, Acting Commissioner of Police Rudolph Dixon said the department had significantly contained Cayman’s three-week violent crime wave, which claimed its latest victim Wednesday.

A simultaneous statement from the Cayman Islands Hospital, the scene of a fatal shooting Wednesday afternoon, said security had been improved ‘to provide a more secure and safe environment for everyone’.

‘… all patients entering or leaving the hospital must now enter through the main entrance, at the front of the hospital, which is on Hospital Road and the security check point …’

Mr. Dixon said police also would be deployed at the hospital.

‘… we have provided an armed police presence, with special focus on ensuring the safety and protection of staff and patients. The hospital, in consultation with the RCIPS, is also instituting additional appropriate security measures,’ the statement said.

‘We have established an incident room which is being manned by Chief Superintendent Derek Haines, who is in charge of police operations. We are also taking steps to strengthen our investigative resources,’ the statement said. It did not elaborate.

Rejecting fears that the department had been outpaced by events, the acting commissioner said the shootings had involved ‘rival factions within a small segment of our community. I assure the community that these incidents do not indicate an increase in the number of persons committing crimes.

Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Commissioner Buel Braggs returns Monday from an extended holiday.

Responding to a widespread sense of concern, Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush said he would provide whatever support the police needed.

‘I have said that the elected government was supporting law-enforcement agencies in every way possible,’ Mr. Bush said.

‘We will not allow our country to be held hostage by a few people. We are not going to just sit back and allow this to escalate further … and if outside assistance is needed, we are going to support the Governor in the strongest terms.’

The sudden recent wave of violence, which shows little sign of abating, began 9 March with the West Bay shooting death of 30-year-old Todd Powery in Morgan’s Harbour.

Although police have not established a definitive link with subsequent events, the death sparked deep uneasiness throughout the community.

The West Bay attack was followed 28 March by the attempted execution of Sheldon Brown by two masked assailants outside the Pirate’s Cove pub in East End.

Mr. Brown was hospitalised in stable condition.

The following evening, shots were fired at a home in Bodden Town. No injuries were reported.

In both cases, police took several men into custody.

On Wednesday afternoon, a 28-year-old man was shot and killed at the George Town Hospital in an incident police described as retaliation for the attack on Mr. Brown.

Bodden Town resident, 42-year-old Carlos Renton Russell, was remanded in custody within hours of the shooting, charged with possession of an unlicensed .38-caliber revolver and a quantity of ammunition.

The latest assault occurred Wednesday at 11.55pm near Hell Road in West Bay when a gunman shot an 18-year-old man, who was admitted to George Town Hospital in stable condition.

A 23-year old Caymanian male was subsequently arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

Earlier this week, police described the series of shootings as ‘two groups retaliating among themselves”, suggesting both were involved in the drug trade.

‘These are fearful times. … We expect we haven’t heard the last of it,’ Mr. Dixon told reporters.

Mr. Bush said he would meet police early next week to assess their needs

‘[The Cabinet] have given them everything they have asked for and we will meet them again to see if they need help in the latest situation,’ he said.

‘We will support them in the strongest terms.’

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