In a shocking revelation Tuesday
afternoon, police said that two men involved in the deadly shooting of
four-year-old Jeremiah Barnes in West
Bay waited behind the
Esso gas station for his family to show up.
When the white Chevrolet Malibu
Jeremiah’s family rode in pulled up to the Hell Esso station around 8.25pm
Monday, Royal Cayman Islands Police Commissioner David Baines said two men got
out of a vehicle that was parked behind the station, walked up to the Chevy and
began “firing indiscriminately”.
Jeremiah’s family members said four
people were in the Chevy at the time shots were fired, including the boy’s mother;
father and older brother.
“It could have been all four of
them in the car that had been shot,” said Brian Barnes, Jeremiah’s grand uncle.
“We must see justice done.”
Mr. Baines said during a Tuesday
afternoon press conference that the manner in which the shooting was done
smacked of gang retaliation tactics. He declined to state who might have been
the target of Monday’s shooting.
“We believe the vehicle was already
in position behind the gas station,” Mr. Baines said Tuesday. “We have to
pursue all lines of enquiry, but there are some facts that would indicate that
this was a targeted shooting into that particular vehicle.”
How the gunmen might have known
that car was going to be at the station at that time was unclear.
Cayman Islands Governor Duncan
Taylor called the shooting a “terrible loss” and vowed to push legislative
changes in the upcoming Legislative Assembly session this month to assist
police in investigating and solving violent crime.
One of the changes would allow
witnesses to give anonymous testimony in criminal court proceedings. The other
would be the passage of the revamped Police Law that allows, among other measures,
the ability for a “negative inference” to be drawn by jurors and judges if a
suspect refuses to answer police questions during an investigation.
Mr. Taylor said similar “negative
inference” legislation is already in place in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Baines said even though two men
had been arrested in connection with Monday night’s shooting, police were still
looking for witnesses who could assist – including a number of children who
were playing football across the street at John Cumber Primary at the time
gunshots rang out.
He said appropriate counselling and
family assistance services would be provided for those children, many of whom
were 11 and 12 years old.
The commissioner also warned the
general public that police presence in West
Bay and elsewhere on Grand
Cayman would be heightened through the use of heavily armed officers
stationed at roadblocks.
“You will see the roadblocks…accompanied
by armed officers carrying overt weaponry; not just their sidearm,” Mr. Baines
He also said all non-essential
roles in the police service would be closed down in the coming days to put as
many police officers on the streets as possible.
Mr. Baines warned the community not
to act rashly in the face of a crime that had left many shaken.
“I’m conscious that there’s been
some suggestion…about the public using vigilantism and arming themselves,” he
said. “I understand your concerns, but I ask you to leave it in our hands.”