The robbery of an armored truck and shooting of a security guard outside Foster’s Food Fair has the potential to be one of those galvanizing events that brings a community together to confront a common adversary.
The armed robbery that took place Saturday night was a brazen act of criminality demonstrating a reckless and wanton disregard for human life, public safety and the rule of law.
As most residents of the Cayman Islands know, shopping at the Foster’s — Airport location on a Saturday night isn’t your average trip to the grocery store. It’s a social and cultural phenomenon. Considering the hometown atmosphere, magnitude of the crowd and diversity of customers (from all walks of life, nationalities, professions and backgrounds), going to Foster’s on Saturday night may be the closest thing in Cayman to the experience of a city plaza.
When the shooting occurred just after 7 p.m. Saturday, the area was teeming with motorists and pedestrians. While we are keeping in our thoughts and prayers the 51-year-old guard who suffered bullet wounds in his arm and leg, it is a wonder that he was the only person who was hurt.
As Foster’s Managing Director Woody Foster said, “We’re just amazed that only the guard was shot. A number of shots were fired. It was extremely busy at the store, which is the really frightening part. It was a lot of [gunshot] shells spent in a very crowded place. This really could have been a lot worse.”
Some subjects are unpleasant, but unavoidable. We are sensitive to the reality that Cayman’s economy depends disproportionately on tourism. We have long (and repeatedly) editorialized that the allure of these islands is rooted in our safety and security, which must be defended and protected at all costs — and not just for our visitors but even more so for our residents.
At the Compass we do not overplay or sensationalize crime in order to “attract eyeballs.” What we do advocate for, however, are measures to keep Cayman the most secure, law-abiding community in the region.
One of the worst-kept secrets in the Caribbean is the criminality and violence that have permeated the societies of our competing destinations. You’ll never read about it in glossy industry magazines, tourist brochures or travel columns (penned by writers whose vacations are often paid for by the governments of, or businesses in, the countries they are visiting), but, as a rule, the major tourist destinations in the region are plagued by violent crime.
For example, a quick glance at international statistics will reveal the following countries perched at or near the top of tables on intentional homicides: Honduras, Belize, Jamaica, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Panama.
We don’t want Cayman ever to join that company.
In light of the Foster’s shooting and other high-profile acts of gun violence (including the Feb. 20 robbery attempt of an armored vehicle, where another security guard was shot), it appears that we may be attempting to combat today’s crime with yesterday’s methods and mindset.
To paraphrase U.S. President Donald Trump’s terminology, Cayman has some “very bad hombres” — some imported, some homegrown — who are small in number but have an outsize negative impact on the island.
It took the police nearly two full days to release basic details on the Foster’s shooting, such as descriptions of suspects and vehicles involved, and images from closed-circuit TV cameras. With instant mass communication at everyone’s fingertips, such delay is unacceptable.
Politicians, meanwhile, have been stunningly silent — no one, it seems is running on a tough “law and order” platform.
With the May 24 elections approaching, the campaign season is an opportune time to initiate a national conversation on crime and public safety, and to examine from all angles — including policing methods and self-defense options — what we need to do as a country in order to preserve our societal tranquility.