Bandits hit local TV station
Announcers on Cayman 27 – the Cayman Islands TV news station operated by WestStar – noted their top story Friday morning was one that “hits close to home”.
Three masked robbers entered the offices of WestStar Television on Thursday afternoon and held up employees in the bill payment area, according to officials with the company. Two of the three suspects had firearms, police said.
The incident happened around 3pm Thursday. No one was hurt and no shots were fired.
According to WestStar Marketing Manager Vanessa Hansen, the suspects entered through the front door of the station and robbed the billing office on the first floor of the building.
With the cable TV operation having been robbed downstairs, News Director April Cummings – just one floor up – found herself in an odd position.
“It’s an interesting situation to be in, where you actually have to cover yourself [on the news],” Ms Cummings said. “It’s hard to be objective when it’s you.”
Ms Cummings said Thursday afternoon that at that time final decision had not been made, but that it was probable the robbery would be covered on Cayman 27 just like any other similar incident would.
“We’ll likely just report the facts and leave it at that,” she said.
They didn’t soft-pedal it. The top story on the TV news, as well as on the website Friday was Thursday’s robbery. The website report noted investigators were reviewing CCTV footage from inside the building at the time of the robbery.
Those photos were later released to the press in attempts to find the three suspects and the getaway driver.
The armed men did receive some money and quickly left the scene, according to police.
“Our customer care staff have been trained for this type of situation, and that training was followed,” Ms Hansen said. “Everyone did what they were supposed to do.”
“The most important thing is that everyone is safe,” said Customer Care Manager Shayne Whittaker. “The staff are understandably shaken up, so we have brought in a counsellor from the employee assistance programme to talk to them.”
Police were on scene interviewing WestStar staff members who were victims in the heist on Thursday afternoon. The police helicopter was also on scene and there were initial reports that a man had been arrested in George Town’s Rock Hole area in connection with the robbery. The police later said three people were arrested, but that they had been ruled out from the enquiry.
The suspected getaway car was later found abandoned on School Road.
WestStar TV is located just off Eastern Avenue behind Rankin’s Plaza.
Ms Hansen, who has worked at the TV station for the last 14 years, said they’ve never been robbed in her time there.
The robbery suspects were described as follows:
Male, 5 feet 8 inches, stocky build and of a light brown complexion, wearing a navy coloured baseball cap, a black or navy bandana covering his face, a black or navy long sleeved sweatshirt with a grey or white sweatshirt underneath
Male, approximately 5 feet 11 inches wearing a camouflage baseball cap with a dark coloured patterned bandana covering his face, a camouflage jacket
Male, approximately 5 feet 6 inches with a light brown complexion wearing a black jacket, a white baseball cap with a white cover over the top and black gloves
Male, getaway driver, large build, wearing a light coloured long sleeved shirt.