Cayman’s National Security Council has authorised several initiatives in response to this morning’s shooting in George Town including an increase in armed patrols in high incident areas and at liquor-licensed premises.
The NSC, in a statement Friday afternoon, said it met in an emergency session earlier today in response to two separate shooting incidents in George Town over the past week.
Those incidents left two dead and eight injured in total. The latest happened at Vic’s Bar on Seymour Drive. Six people were shot, one was killed and another remains in critical condition in hospital.
Police said two victims have since been discharged, while two others remain hospitalised.
Earlier today, Deputy Police Commissioner Kurt Walton told the Compass investigators believe this morning’s shooting was a targeted attack on two men and not a random incident.
The NSC, the statement said, has agreed a series of measures to be pursued urgently in addition to the patrols, such as: an increase in vehicle checks along roadways to run in parallel with Operation Quaker, an increase in CCTV coverage on major roadways and in known hotspots and the offering of $50,000 via Crime Stoppers for information leading to arrests or confiscation of illegal firearms.
Governor Martyn Roper, in the statement, noted that while both cases remain under active investigation by the RCIPS, the Council met for a briefing by the Police Commissioner.
“It was important that the National Security Council agreed some immediate actions to be taken, as these incidents are extremely shocking and most worrying to members of the community,” he said.
The Director of Customs and Border Control also attended the meeting and provided updates on efforts to intercept illegal firearms entering through the Cayman Islands’ ports, the statement said.
Roper said the immediate focus remains on catching all perpetrators and those involved in these crimes.
“While we remain confident in the RCIPS, we also need the full cooperation of the community, to identify those involved and remove illegal firearms from our streets,” he added.
National Security Council measures:
- Increased armed patrols in high incident areas and at liquor-licensed premises;
- Increase in vehicle checks along roadways to run in parallel with Operation Quaker;
- An increase in CCTV coverage on major roadways and in known hotspots
- Offer of $50,000 via Crime Stoppers for information leading to arrests or confiscation of illegal firearms.
Other measures, the statement said, are being actively considered and will be announced at a later date.
Premier Wayne Panton said all assets will be deployed, as the NSC moves to address the spike in gun crime.
“Helicopters will become more visible, using their spotlights in business and residential areas. Marine resources will be utilised to address the immediate need, as well as the larger problem of the importation of illegal firearms,” the statement said.
The Premier also reiterated government’s zero tolerance approach to any crime, especially gun crime.
“These shootings have involved so many innocent bystanders,” said Mr. Panton. “These people who were injured could have been killed, and they could be members of any of our families. That is why I am imploring anyone who has information or who has seen anything to come forward to help the authorities address these gun crime issues,” he said.
Leader of the Opposition Roy McTaggart, who is also a member of the NSC, emphasised the importance of unity in the fight against crime.
“The Opposition stands in support of the measures being put forward by the NSC to decisively address these deeply disturbing gun crimes. I urge the community to do their part to help remove these guns from our society,” he said.
The National Security Council will meet again on Tuesday, 13 July.
Prior to the NSC meeting, Panton also met with several Members of Parliament for an emergency briefing.
McTaggart, in a further statement Friday evening, said, the recent spate of shootings and murders has “rightly shocked” the community and is a grave concern for everyone.
“All gun crimes are concerning, but the recent ones have been ruthless. The use of a lethal automatic weapon to shoot indiscriminately in public is especially troubling. This type of crime is not something we are used to seeing, nor is it something that should ever become the norm in our society. I am satisfied that this spate of shootings is being taken seriously by the RCIPS,” he said.
McTaggart called on residents to assist the police.
“I urge the community also to do their part to help remove these guns from our society. We must ensure that the evil of gun and gang culture is not left to fester and grow. It must be curtailed. I pray we have a quiet and safe weekend. May God bless our beloved Cayman Islands,” he said.
Listen to the Opposition Leader’s statement below.