An illegal immigrant convicted of robbery in the Cayman Islands in early 2011 was shot dead by police officers Friday morning after he had returned to the islands and was being sought on an arrest warrant.

The fatal shooting is believed to be the first shooting of a criminal suspect by Royal Cayman Islands Police officers since at least the 1980s, according to Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis, who has served in the department since then.

Norval Barrett

“None of us here at RCIPS are aware of an incident like this [previously],” Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said during a Friday press conference.

The dead man was identified to the Cayman Compass as Norval Barrett, 34, of Jamaica. Commissioner Byrne said the suspect was the subject of a search warrant being served in the Windsor Park area of George Town around 5:30 a.m. Friday. Mr. Byrne declined to independently confirm Barrett’s identity, citing the ongoing investigation.

According to police accounts of the incident, the suspect left a residence on Theresa Drive with a firearm. Mr. Byrne said armed officers fired “a number of shots” and injured the suspect. He was transported to hospital and pronounced dead at 6:16 a.m. Friday, police said.

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Mr. Byrne said he could not confirm whether the suspect fired any shots at police, although he said that was being looked at. The firearm recovered by police at the scene was loaded, Mr. Byrne said.

The warrant obtained by police called for a firearms search and the detention of a man, age 34, of Jamaica, according to a police press release.

Just before Christmas, the RCIPS put out a public warning regarding Barrett, who was sentenced in 2012 to 12 years in prison for a robbery at the Shedden Road Esso station on Aug. 18, 2010. His sentence was later reduced to nine years by the Court of Appeal.

RELATED EDITORIAL – Cayman’s first fatal police shooting since … 

Barrett was deported from Cayman after he was released from prison, but the RCIPS reported during the holiday period that he was believed to be back on island illegally. “Anyone who sees Mr. Barrett should exercise caution as he could be potentially dangerous,” the December press release noted.

Mr. Byrne said the officers involved in the shooting were receiving counseling over the incident, which he said can be difficult for officers to cope with.

Officers from the Bermuda Police Service arrived in Cayman over the weekend to conduct an independent review of Friday’s shooting, Mr. Byrne said, to ensure “transparency and independence.” It has been the practice in recent years for police departments in the overseas territories to conduct such investigations of high-profile incidents.

Rare occurrence

The number of times police have been involved in shootings over the past decade can be counted on one hand.

Although the department has not had an officer-involved fatal shooting of a suspect in modern times, there have been incidents of police using their weapons

Last November, officers involved in a search at a Prospect-area home in response to gang activity shot and killed a bulldog that they said was released on them.

“In order to ensure their safety and arrest the suspect, the threat was neutralized by one of the armed officers who discharged a single shot that fatally wounded the animal,” an RCIPS statement noted at the time.

In 2011, a police officer shot at the tire of a vehicle on the waterfront in a case that involved a police pursuit. No one was injured.

In April 2013, officers were fired upon during a pursuit through George Town. None of the officers was hurt.

In November 2009, the RCIPS reported that a shot was fired through the window of a patrol vehicle driving along Shedden Road early one Saturday morning. A police constable in the vehicle suffered what were described as minor injuries related to the shooting. No arrests have been made.

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  1. After being deported, how and why was this troublemaker Mr. Barrett allowed to enter Cayman. Who wasn’t doing their job???? Customs perhaps. RCIPS must carry weapons, if you read the numerous reports of murders, muggings, attacks on innocent individuals, home break ins. How shall the police defend themselves and us and stop a perp. or assailant. Pepper spray won’t cut it. This island has sadly become a hostile environment for tourists, and residents, with all the crime stats. Let’s give the police whatever they need to protect us.

    • Lukishi
      I think you’ll find if you re-read the article that he entered the country illegally. Maybe from a boat.

      It is a very sad thing to say but I’m beginning to agree that the police should be better armed in future.

  2. Given the current situation in Grand Cayman and recent gun-related criminal activity, I can’t say that this incident comes as any real surprise: it had to happen sooner or later.

    I would rather have been totally wrong in my assessment and predictions in recent comments but the reality of Cayman’s situation speaks for itself…..the country cannot continue to let armed criminals run amok without taking the necessary preventive measures.

    Hopefully, the community will understand why this shooting might have been necessary and support the police, pending the necessary independent review of the matter, as is normal in all British jurisdictions.

    Cayman’s resident who might be a bit disturbed that this has happened should rest assured that, in comparison to many countries, the number of police shootings in Great Britain is very very low…and almost non-existent in the Cayman Islands…and that this isolated incident should not alarm anyone that this might become a regular occurence.

    That also depends on the actions and behaviour of individuals who think they can do whatever they wish because they have a gun in their hands.

    They have been warned !

  3. People who claim that Cayman’s police are not armed clearly do not understand the British system of policing and this is surprising, seeing that most people who are from Cayman or have lived there a long time should know the country in which they are living and how things work.

    If people in Cayman would open their eyes and be aware of what is going on around them…they would see armed police on a regular basis in almost every walk of life…and it is very clear that they are very well armed and very well trained in the use of firearms.

    The British system of policing has always been based on a co-operative relationship between the population and the police, the old ‘bobby’ walking the beat armed with only a baton, and the relationship and contacts he/she forged with the community in which he/she worked.

    The basis of the regular police officer remaining ‘unarmed’ or not armed with lethal weapons is on the premise that Britain and its territories are unarmed populations…it is a PRIVILEGE to legally own a firearm…not a RIGHT, as in the USA.

    The assumptions being that an unarmed population should not need armed police to enforce the law……the law in regards to less violent and murderous situations, that is.

    Another assumption is that….the more armed police….the increased liklihood of more unnecessary police shootings and killings…as is happening on a regular basis in the USA as well.

    The police in the Cayman Islands are as armed as they need to be to deal with any situations that arise…as this incident has proven and no direct attacks have been made or aimed at police officers in Cayman…as yet.

    There is no need to arm Cayman’s police more than they already are because of this incident.

  4. Calm down Mr. Tatum. This aint the U.K. This is a small island with crime levels that very easily threaten to disrupt all that is good in Cayman. Police need to always analyze what more they can do to make the island safer, and welcoming. Always room for improvement. Take your blood pressure medicine.

  5. Ms. Brown

    Nothing personal in my comments so why get personal with me. ?

    It sounds like you need that blood pressure medicine much more than I do.

    Its simply a fallacy that Cayman does not have armed police and even though the crime rate there, including armed crimes and murder has increased dramatically, there is no need to for every single police officer in the Cayman Islands, or Great Britain, to be armed with firearms.

    Cayman has more than enough armed police officers to handle any situations that calls for them.

    Unless you want more police shootings…and the tit-for-tat retaliation that inevitably follows.

    You certainly do not want to be burying and mourning any of your police officers