“I got my gun on me neva leave home with out it”
So reads the caption of a photo posted to a young Caymanian’s personal Facebook page. In the photo, the man stands before a mirror, one hand holding a cellphone, the other holding what appears to be a handgun, tucked into his waistband under his shirt.
Such is the attitude toward the laws of the Cayman Islands among certain elements of our community.
As often happens to self-proclaimed gunslingers, the man described above ended up in the local hospital after being on the receiving end of a discharged bullet Monday night in West Bay.
Monday’s shooting was apparently an act of retaliation for the Jan. 3 killing of 22-year-old Victor Oliver Yates, who was shot inside Super C’s Restaurant on Watercourse Road.
The potential connection — gang activity — is unsurprising, but alarming, and perhaps all the more so because it is unsurprising.
Gang-related assassinations are not new in West Bay, and when a sequence of violence begins in West Bay, it does not stay confined to any one district for long.
Let us revisit the events of a particularly deadly month in Cayman’s recent history:
- Sept. 13, 2011 — Robert Mackford Bush, 28, is shot in the head to death inside his vehicle just off Birch Tree Hill Road in West Bay.
- Sept. 15, 2011 — Andrew Anthony Baptist, 24, is shot in the head to death while standing in a yard on Sand Hole Road in West Bay.
- Sept. 17, 2011 — Preston Rivers, 18, is shot in the head to death in the vicinity of Thatch Palm Villas on Andresen Road in West Bay.
- Sept. 19, 2011 — Jason Christian, 18, is shot in the head to death inside a vehicle near Crewe Road in George Town.
- Sept. 22, 2011 — Asher William McGaw, 21, is shot to death in the street on John McLean Drive in East End.
The string of murders eventually prompted a more aggressive approach from police, who stepped up confrontations with suspected gang members, and from lawmakers, who made resources available for the heightened presence. Then-Gov. Duncan Taylor requested assistance from the United Kingdom, which sent about 20 police officers from North West England to Cayman on short-term contracts.
Now in January 2015, and potentially at the beginning of another rash of retaliatory shootings, Cayman’s police should embark on another substantial demonstration of strength. Cayman’s officials must again unite behind law enforcement in a similar show of solidarity, and put pressure on the sinister elements in and out of West Bay before this tit-for-tat gang violence gets out of hand.
People like our Facebook poster and his gun-brandishing ilk seem to be of the mindset that Cayman is their own Wild Wild West, and the only law they respect is the law of force. If that’s the way it has to be, then station police officers at each bar, liquor store, corner shop and public place in West Bay — and turn our troubled district into a model for safety, law and order.