Weekend bloodbath raises concerns

Weekend attacks that killed one man and critically injured three more have come on the heels of several other major crimes, leaving Grand Cayman residents concerned about what’s happening to their normally peaceful island.

Crime scene

Police investigate the crime scene at the Pit Stop bar in Bodden Town. Photo: Jewel Levy

A shooting and two stabbings, all apparently unrelated, occurred just outside different nightclubs between midnight and 3am Saturday.

“In the last year or so, people have gotten to be more aggressive,” said Shirley Reynolds, the owner of a bar that saw two men stabbed in its parking lot early Saturday morning. “Cayman’s really not the way it was before.”

The attacks happened all over the island; the first in Bodden Town, the second in central George Town, and the third along West Bay Road about halfway between downtown and West Bay.

In the first incident, which was reported around 12.30am, a 21-year-old man was stabbed in the throat during a fight outside the Pit Stop bar (also known as the Everglo Bar). The victim, identified as Aaron William Berry, was picked up by an ambulance after friends drove him part of the way into George Town. He was later pronounced dead at hospital.

A 20-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the stabbing attack. No charges had been filed at press time.

At 1am, a fight broke out among several men in the parking lot of the ShirReynolds bar on Eastern Avenue. Two men, a 28-year-old and a 40-year-old, ended up with stab wounds and were hospitalised in critical condition.

Doctors said Sunday that it appeared the two men would survive.

About 90 minutes after the dust up outside ShirReynolds, a man was shot in the head outside Pepper’s Lounge on West Bay Road. Witnesses there said the victim left the bar around 2.30am and had gotten in a car when someone fired a gun into the vehicle’s window.

The victim in the shooting was also in critical condition. He is expected to survive.

The homicide in Bodden Town was the island’s third in less than two months.

In 2007, there were three killings the entire year.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service noted three major crimes within three hours is a rarity for the country. Acting Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon said officers would be out in force in the coming days.

“We will have an immediate show of strength on the streets, now and for the foreseeable future, utilizing all available resources, with officers carrying out high visibility policing and collecting information and intelligence,” Mr. Dixon said.

Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan was expected to release more details at a press conference this morning.

All three incidents happened near nightclubs, and police said it appeared that the people involved had been at those clubs before the violence broke out.

Mrs. Reynolds said her bar had two security guards on duty Friday night, and said she was not certain where the fight in the ShirReynolds parking lot started.

Owners of Pepper’s Lounge and the Pit Stop bar could not immediately be reached for comment.

More violence

There have been two other homicides in Grand Cayman within the past five weeks.

On 21 January, 18-year-old Josh Hooker was gunned down inside his home in the area known as the Swamp, off Eastern Avenue.

On 8 February, 40-year-old Frederic Bise’s body was found inside a burning car that was parked in the driveway of a West Bay home.

Police have made arrests in connection with both killings, but no charges have been filed in either.

Earlier this month, a 29-year-old man was shot at in the Scranton area of George Town. He survived. Police said a bullet grazed the top of his head.

A suspect has been arrested and charged in that case.

In another incident, which has caused community concern, unidentified rock-throwers have been plaguing a Bodden Town neighbourhood for the last few months. Several people have been injured after being pelted with rocks thrown from the bushes on Kipling Street. No arrests have been made.

Several other major crimes have been reported in Grand Cayman within the last few weeks including; two robberies at Seven Mile Beach hotels, a break-in that terrorised a woman at her Southampton Gardens apartment, and two intentionally set fires in empty homes along North West Point Road in West Bay.

One of the fires broke out next door to 75-year-old Eula Glidden, who echoed Mrs. Reynolds’ concerns.

Mrs. Glidden said she never worried much about her own safety until the fires occurred.

“In particular, the firemen or police asked me (that night) if I had heard any knocking on the door. They said someone’s apparently been walking down the iron shore, knocking on doors,” she said.

“I have never experienced any fear about opening up the back door and going out at night. I guess I’m still in the mode of what Cayman used to be like.”