Police make a number of gang arrests
An 18-year-old arrested Tuesday on suspicion of murdering Asher McGaw was the first person taken into custody directly in connection with a series of September killings that shocked Grand Cayman.
No charges had been filed in the case at press time Wednesday, but attorneys expected the 18-year-old who was arrested Tuesday afternoon in East End would appear in court soon.
The teen’s name is not being released by the Caymanian Compass unless and until he is formally charged.
The arrest Tuesday was made following what was described as a “large scale” police operation in East End district.
Mr. McGaw’s body was found lying on John McLean Drive by Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officers early Thursday, 22 September. Mr. McGaw, 21, had been shot several times, police said. The officers who located him had been performing routine patrols, according to the RCIPS.
Prior to Tuesday’s arrest, a significant number of individuals had been taken into custody by RCIPS officers. However, police said Wednesday none of these arrests would be considered directly connected with the recent killings that claimed the lives of Mr. McGaw in East End, Jason Christian, 18, in George Town, and Preston Rivers, Andrew Baptist and Robert Macford Bush in West Bay. The shootings that killed the five men happened within nine days of one another.
Rather, police said the suspects were taken into custody in relation to various gang associations. No charges have been filed following any of those arrests.
One local attorney familiar with the situation said: “Within the past two weeks, [police] rounded up people who they believed to be part of gangs. It was just sort of an attempt to put the breaks on an escalating situation.”
The Cayman Islands Penal Code does have provisions that allow police to charge individuals for being involved in certain gang activities. However, no charges have ever been filed using that measure since it was created here in 2005.
On Monday, 19 September, Police Commissioner David Baines said three men had been arrested in connection with the West Bay killings.
Mr. Baines said at the time police had the names of gang members suspect of being involved in the killing of Messrs. Rivers, Baptist and Bush, but faced the challenges of “deciphering rumour and speculation” and turning that into hard evidence.
Until Mr. Bush was shot to death inside his car on 13 September, Cayman had recorded no homicides in 2011. Over the past three years, the country has averaged seven killings a year.