‘I was so frightened’

Shootings shake up WB, Cayman

Marlee Hurlston is amazed she didn’t have a heart attack last Wednesday night.

Marlee Hurlston

Marlee Hurlston points to a bullet hole in the side of her West Bay home. Photo: Brent Fuller

Some of the bullets aimed at a group of young men outside Mrs. Hurlston’s West Bay home on Turtle Crescent struck the 62-year-old’s house, while she, her daughter and her grandson were inside.

‘The three of us were in the room, I heard the gunshots, and we stayed right in the room,’ Mrs. Hurlston said. ‘It scared me very much, I was so frightened, oh so frightened.’

At least one bullet, possibly two, struck Mrs. Hurlston’s home where she has stayed with her family the last 19 or 20 years.

Other shots claimed the life of 20-year-old Marcus Ebanks, left 14-year-old Adryan Powell in critical condition, and injured Marcus’ 18-year-old brother Rod Ebanks.

Mrs. Hurlston said she heard the group of young men, seven of them in all according to police, outside her home before the shooting started.

‘The couple of boys that were around there, they were just sitting down talking, they wasn’t doing nothing wrong, you know?’ she said.

The West Bay resident’s story about what happened the night of the deadly triple shooting dovetails with what police have so far said about the case

It also lends credence to the possibility that the three young men who were shot that Wednesday night might simply have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

‘There is nothing at the moment that gives us a clear motive that would justify two men stepping out of the bushes and opening fire on seven young men that were effectively just spending their time hanging around together,’ Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner David Baines said last week.

Police said earlier in the week that they had previously responded to calls at the home on Turtle Crescent, just south of the Boatswain’s Beach property. However, Mr. Baines said that there was no indication of any criminal activity there that evening.

‘Quite what triggered this incident [Wednesday] night, I can’t say at the moment,’ he said. ‘But certainly there is nothing at this stage that says the young men who were shot … were involved in criminal activity.’

Marcus and Rod Ebanks’ mother is a serving member of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. Fourteen year-old Adryan Powell is a former member of Cayman’s Queensgate U-13 League Champions, Future Sports Club.

Adryan was airlifted to a US hospital late Thursday in critical condition. Doctors were hopeful he would survive, but also feared he might end up paralyzed from the waist down.

According to police, two masked men came from the bushes across the street at the intersection of Turtle Crescent and Bonaventure Road and opened fire around 8pm Wednesday.

‘This isn’t brave and courageous – shooting unarmed boys, in no sense of any honour or courage – without warning and without justification,’ Mr. Baines said.

Police reported that four men had been taken into custody last week for questioning in connection with the triple shooting. By Friday, two of those men had been released after it was determined they were in the group of seven young men who had been fired upon.

Two others detained Thursday were still in custody. No charges had been filed in the case as of press time.

‘Gang culture’ cited

Although not speaking directly about Wednesday night’s incident, Cayman Islands Governor Stuart Jack said he was becoming concerned about ‘a culture which seems to be emerging among a certain section of people in the community’.

Mr. Jack’s comments were in reference to the number of shootings that have occurred so far this year, including the recent killing of 28-year-old Omar Samuels in George Town.

‘The gun and gang culture among a small section of our community is totally unacceptable,’ Mr. Jack said last week. ‘We’re determined to do whatever we can to fight this culture.’

As early as four years ago, Cayman Islands police had gathered significant intelligence on several groups that could loosely be called gangs, and Commissioner Baines didn’t deny their existence in Cayman.

‘I do accept that gangs in a much more general sense exist … they’re based on territoriality, where you grow up, who your friends are and who you choose to hang out with,’ he said.

‘Sadly … what you might call a normal part of growing up and being a part of a group of people or a gang of people … tips over into violence.’

Deputy Leader of Government Business Rolston Anglin said the newly-elected government would make every effort to ‘stamp out’ the gun culture in the Islands.

‘The people in this country … Caymanians, non-Caymanians, must decide what kind of society that we want to live in today and what kind of society we want to pass on to the next generation.’

The Royal Cayman Island Police Service has set up an anonymous voicemail service for people to use to pass information to police regarding the recent murders, or other crimes. The number is 949-7777.

Police said none of the calls to this number will be traced. It has no caller ID and is totally anonymous.

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