At least two of the three recent shootings in central George Town have occurred near areas where unlicensed street parties, commonly known in the Cayman Islands as ‘sessions’ were being held.
The most recent shooting occurred on Shedden Road and involved an American national who suffered injuries to his hand and arm when several shots were fired at him in the parking lot of the Nevlaw building. Three young men were arrested on suspicion of attempted murder in that case.
Royal Cayman Islands Police have confirmed that a street party was being held in the area at the time of the shooting, which occurred around 4.30am. Police said organisers of that party did not have permission to sell alcohol or a music and dancing license issued by the Liquor Licensing Board. But both activities were going on in the area, according to police.
Investigators said the same individual who organised last weekend’s street party had been arrested at roughly the same location over Easter weekend on suspicion of illegally selling alcohol. Fifty-nine cases of liquor were seized along with $30,000 in cash during that operation. Charges have not been filed in the case.
Just a few weeks before the Shedden Road shooting, 28-year-old Omar Samuels was shot in another area where a street party was occurring. That ‘session’ had not been licensed for music and dancing either, although one of the party attendees did have a licence to sell food at that location, police said.
Mr. Samuels died in the shooting on McField Lane. No arrests have been made in connection with his death.
Whether those involved in the recent shootings were actually attending the street parties in both instances was not known, but RCIPS detectives freely admit that the unlicensed events are a major headache.
‘Some of these guys are persistent,’ said RCIPS Inspector Richard Harford. ‘They (hold parties) every weekend, and that’s actually where all of the anti-social behaviours take place.’
Street parties also tend to move around to make it more difficult for police to find them.
‘It’s the balloon effect,’ said Mr. Harford. ‘You put pressure on one side and the other side blows up.’
Inspector Harford said police in George Town are making greater efforts now to control these illegal parties which generally happen between midnight and 6am on weekends. He told the Caymanian Compass one such event was busted up Saturday on Barnes Drive near the George Town landfill. Three men were arrested in that operation.
Not only are those who host the parties, play music and sell alcohol acting illegally, but Mr. Harford said individuals who attend the ‘sessions’ might also be arrested if police arrive.
‘People can be arrested for unlawful assembly as well,’ he said. ‘We want to advise the public that they should not attend these sessions.’
The Compass has spoken to several residents in the areas where the shootings occurred who’ve said the police know which individuals are hosting the street parties, and have claimed officers simply refuse to arrest them for one reason or another. None wished to be named for fear of retaliation.
Inspector Harford denied RCIPS was ‘going easy’ on the party organisers.
‘We don’t break the law to catch lawbreakers,’ he said. ‘We can’t turn a blind eye.’