Police confirm new detail
Police have revealed that the shotgun used in the attempted robbery at Blackbeard’s liquor store in Grand Harbour on Monday was loaded, contrary to what the men who chased down and tackled the suspects believed at the time.
One of the suspects had pointed the gun in the face of fisherman Charles Ebanks, who said at that time he believed the gun was loaded. But after he disarmed the man and then hit him with the shotgun after being pepper sprayed, Mr. Ebanks said he changed his mind and thought the gun was not loaded.
“The reason I thought the gun was not loaded was because it didn’t go off during the struggle,” said Mr. Ebanks.
Police on Thursday released a statement clarifying that the shotgun was indeed loaded.
Mr. Ebanks, who along with his friend and fellow fisherman Edward Azan and others tackled the two teenage suspects as they left Blackbeard’s following the attempted robbery around 3.15pm Monday, said police had notified him that the gun was loaded.
The store that was the target of the attempted hold-up showed its public thanks to the heroes who were instrumental in the arrest of two suspects, ages 17 and 18.
Blackbeard’s will donate money to Crime Stoppers and a crime prevention organisation as part of its expression of thanks to the men.
“We are incredibly thankful that no one was harmed,” said Matthew Bishop, general manager of Blackbeard’s, part of the Cayman Distributors Group. “This was a very serious situation that had potentially devastating consequences. Our staff acted with great calmness and professionalism throughout the incident.”
Police arrested the two teens after they were chased and caught by Mr. Azan and Mr. Ebanks. Another man, Ray MacGuire, also helped catch the robbers.
“We are also thankful for the extraordinary efforts of several members of the general public, in particular Mr. Charles Ebanks, Mr. Edward Azan and Mr. Ray MacGuire, who put their own lives at risk by chasing and apprehending the two suspected criminals and restraining them until the police arrived. It was an incredible and unexpected act of courage,” said Mr. Bishop.
He said Blackbeard’s would be recognising each of them “appropriately to demonstrate our appreciation of their commitment to the community”.
He also thanked the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service for its “swift and thorough response”, adding that everything is now back to normal at the Grand Harbour store, which is open for business as usual.
Nancy van der Bol, director of retail operations at Blackbeard’s, said the retailer’s management believes that the security training the company provides to its staff members was helpful and that the CCTV cameras used to monitor activity in the shop was useful.
“To protect both our customers and employees, we have invested heavily in anti-theft technology such as CCTV. Most liquor stores on the island, including all Blackbeard’s and Big Daddy’s outlets, have high-grade security cameras in place, and thieves should think twice about targeting such facilities.
“In circumstances such as this, the police will often utilise the CCTV images to identify and prosecute those involved. In addition, we also provide intensive training for all of our staff on how to handle situations such as this. With that said, I’m sure nothing fully prepares you for the sight of a weapon, and I am extremely proud of the way our staff conducted themselves,” she said.
To recognise the efforts of Mr. Ebanks, Mr. Azan and Mr. MacGuire, and to support the community’s drive to eradicate violent crime, Blackbeard’s will make a donation to Cayman Crime Stoppers and to Prison!Me!No!Way!, an organisation that focuses on youth and crime prevention.
Mr. Bishop said: “I think the actions of our staff and these brave men are reflective of how many of us feel about crime on the island right now, and we sincerely thank them. Although we would never encourage or expect people to take risks of any kind, this incident is a good example of how key an issue crime really is right now.
“It is affecting all of us and our visitors to the island directly and indirectly and it has to stop. Everyone can do their part, whether it is an extreme measure such as this, or by calling Cayman Crime Stoppers with information, cooperating with police, or reporting anything suspicious.”