Police tape

A man’s hand was “almost severed” in a machete attack in West Bay Thursday morning triggered by rising tensions among gang members, according to Police Commissioner Derek Byrne.

The incident was connected to a report of shots fired in the same area about 7:40pm Wednesday. Police said in a statement that officers who responded to the shooting report in the vicinity of Foremast Close found nothing to substantiate it.

Byrne, addressing Thursday’s COVID-19 press briefing, said no one was injured in the shooting, but it did lead to the machete assault next morning at Foremast Close around 10am.

When police arrived at the scene, they found a man with a severe machete wound to his hand.

Byrne said at the briefing that the victim, who remained in hospital Thursday night, had his hand “almost severed”.

“We will be talking to that person later on as soon as medical treatment is dealt with,” the commissioner added.

A 34-year-old man, of West Bay, who police said is known to the victim, has been arrested on suspicion of assault causing grievous bodily harm. He remains in police custody.

Byrne said a second suspect should be arrested in the coming days. No one was arrested in relation to the shooting incident.

The police commissioner said there was nothing to suggest that those incidents were “outside of a small group of people and the origins are domestic in nature” as opposed to what police would consider between gangs.

“We believe we have a good understanding of what the background to it is,” he said.

Heightened presence in West Bay

Byrne assured residents that the matter is under control and they could expect an increased visible police presence, starting Thursday.

“We are very good on resources and our armed response units have been dedicated to West Bay. We had our meeting this morning [Thursday]. We have a plan of action in place. There will be heightened police presence in West Bay for the foreseeable future till we see exactly what is going on,” he said.

He said investigations into both incidents are “progressing well”.

When asked why the public was not made aware of the incidents earlier, the commissioner said the police media department was working on it and officers had started investigations Wednesday night.

He said there had been an escalation in violence and officers believe the two incidents are connected.

“So, there’s a lot going on that needs to be disseminated correctly. We are still in the early stages of the investigation,” he added.

Byrne said the plan is to get community policing and armed response units inside West Bay and build up community confidence.

He assured the public that “the crime situation is quite stable and, in general terms, everything is calm”, but said that there have been “a small number” of burglaries reported over the past week.

“The situation highlights that crime has not gone away, but has significantly reduced over the past six weeks,” the police commissioner said, adding it was “almost certain crime will re-emerge as we move through the remainder of the year”.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now