Police appealing for tips from public
The father of a 6-year-old boy injured after a gunman opened fire during a raid at his West Bay store says he is concerned about the increase in armed robberies in the Cayman Islands.
Ronnie Bodden said his son received hospital treatment for minor scratches to his ear and neck following the brazen raid at Vidette’s grocery store – just yards away from the West Bay police station.
Mr. Bodden and a cashier at the store also suffered superficial injuries after the gunman fired a single “warning shot” over their heads, sending fragments of debris ricocheting off the wall.
He said his son was shaken by the incident but was a tough kid and was back in school on Monday.
Mr. Bodden, who co-owns the store with his brother, said he would be investing in additional security measures to ensure the safety of his staff amid concerns about an apparent increase in robberies across the Cayman Islands.
Chisholm’s Supermarket in North Side was targeted a week earlier, and police have reported a series of armed “doorstep robberies,” as well as a home invasion in Savannah involving four masked gunmen, in the past two months.
Mr. Bodden said, “With the amount of robberies going on at the moment, there is definitely some concern. There is going to have to be major changes to the security at the store. That’s going to happen within the next few weeks.”
Cashiers at the store said they were terrified following the robbery. They said two hooded men, one carrying a machete, the other wielding a handgun, burst into the store as they were closing up around 9:15 p.m. on Saturday.
One of the robbers repeatedly hacked at the front counter with the machete and demanded the cashier fill a bag with cash from the till.
The other man held up the MoneyGram counter at the back of the store, where Mr. Bodden, who had his son with him, was closing up along with a cashier.
Mr. Bodden said he was not too concerned, even as the robber pointed the gun toward them.
“I could tell he didn’t really want to hurt us, he just came for the cash. The gun didn’t look real. I think he read what I was thinking, that it wasn’t real, and he fired the shot to let me know this was serious. It was a warning shot. He pointed toward the ceiling and fired up.”
A bullet hole, about a foot above head height, could be seen in the wall behind the MoneyGram counter on Monday morning. Police believe that either fragments from the bullet or debris from the wall caused the injuries to Mr. Bodden’s son.
“We took him to hospital as a precaution, but it was just scratches, really, to his ear and his neck,” said the store owner.
Mr. Bodden had a similar injury to his arm and the cashier suffered a scratch wound to her ear.
She said the robber hardly said a word during the raid. He struck the table with his hand and pointed to a bag he was carrying, demonstrating that he wanted them to empty the till.
The cashier said they complied after he fired the shot, but told him the money from the MoneyGram deposits had already been collected and locked away for the day.
She added, “It was terrible, the gunshot was really loud. I was shaking and I couldn’t sleep all night after that.”
Another woman, who was working on the cash till at the front and was confronted by the second robber carrying a machete, said, “I am still scared now. He kept pointing the machete at me and chopping the counter.”
The whole episode was over within four or five minutes, they said.
Co-owner Glenroy Bodden was standing in the parking lot at the time. He said he heard the gunshot and sent someone over to the police station.
Armed officers were on the scene moments after the robbers escaped.
Ronnie Bodden added, “Given the quickness of it all, I felt the police response was OK. If they had been there a bit earlier, they would have caught them, but it all took place very quickly.”
The first robber is described as 6 feet, 1 inch, with dark complexion, slim build and wearing a black jacket with a hood.
The second suspect was said to be 5 feet, 6 inches, with dark complexion, medium build and wearing a black jacket with a hood.
Detectives are appealing for anyone who may have seen two men loitering outside the premises approximately two hours before the robbery to come forward. Information can be passed to the West Bay police station at 949-3999, the RCIPS tip-line 949-7777 or Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS).