By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THERE have been 44 reported shootings since September 1 to October 21 – 12 of which have added to the country’s murder count, according to The Tribune’s analysis of the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s daily crime reports yesterday.
According to the analysis, 24 of the 44 shootings happened in October. Shootings this month have already surpassed the total number of reported incidents for September, which had 20 shootings.
Based on the frequency of the incidents, should they continue at the same pace, the number of shootings could potentially double September’s total.
The crime reports show that September recorded shootings on 15 out of its 30 days.
Up to press time, police have recorded 24 shootings this month. Of those 24 shootings, six ended fatally, 15 were non fatal, and the status of three remain unknown.
One of September’s deadly shootings involved a storeowner who is alleged to have fatally shot a man who later died in hospital during an attempted armed robbery on Lincoln Boulevard.
Another of the fatal shootings involved a man who showed up at a hospital in a private vehicle, suffering from a gunshot wound. He died a short time later, according to the reports.
Throughout September, recorded shootings typically resulted in one victim per incident.
The same is mostly true for October, however on October 4 two men were shot in separate incidents on Poinciana Drive and Poinciana Avenue. Their status remains unknown.
October 10 showed a marked increase in the frequency of shootings. On that day, New Providence recorded four shootings – two in the East Street north area, one in Nassau Village and another in Yellow Elder. One of those shootings (Nassau Village) proved fatal.
On October 11 there were two reported shootings, one of which was fatal. October 12 saw three shootings, one of which resulted in a woman being shot in Nassau Village. In one of the other incidents, prior to shooting the victim, the suspect shot himself in the foot. That took place on Miami Street.
October 13, 14, and 15 each had recorded shootings, with two on October 15.
On October 20, two separate shootings took the lives of two men in the Farrington Road and Bain Town areas.
Their murders pushed the murder count to 93, according to The Tribune’s records.
To put it in perspective, since October 10 there have been 16 shootings – just four less than September’s total.
‘Gangs and drugs’
Former RBPF Assistant Commissioner Paul Thompson attributed the frequency of shootings to “gangs and drugs”.
He said the penalties for persons possessing or committing illegal acts with firearms should be “stiffer.”
“I think once we have gangs and drugs, we’re going to have the shootings,” he said when contacted for comment. “If you steal somebody’s drugs or you steal their (drug) money, the guy can’t take you to court. So what do they do? They send people to shoot you.”
Mr Thompson said officials should enforce laws that allow the seizure and the forfeiture of drug money and property from the assets of crime to clamp down on the activity.
“Once we allow criminals to keep their money, we’re not challenging their assets, so they could sit back and employ people to do what they want to do,” he said. “We have to tackle the assets. Go after the assets of criminals who are sitting back and using those assets to finance drugs.
“When we catch the people I don’t think the punishment they’re getting is enough. These are the people who are causing the shootings and the killings in Nassau because they’re making the guns available. Anybody now caught with multiple guns or smuggling guns should be going to prison for a long time. Take them out of circulation and even go after their property that may have been derived from the sale of guns or ammunition.
“The attorney general is doing a lot to try to get quick trials, but the penalties should be something that would cause anybody to think twice before wanting to smuggle guns into the country,” Mr Thompson said.
Officer in charge of the Central Detective Unit, Superintendent Paul Rolle yesterday said although he was not in a position to confirm whether there was a spike in shootings, he said the Royal Bahamas Police Force is “very concerned with all crimes.”
“We take all crimes seriously, including shootings,” he said. “Where we have suspects identified we will let them have their day in court.”
In September, National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage said the majority of murders in the country are primarily committed with firearms, and linked “illicit activities” to the “continual influx of guns” being illegally imported into the country.
He said the issue called for “more robust surveillance and reconnaissance measures” by governments in the region and said the government was “determined” to maximize its resources in “thwarting all efforts to smuggle illegal firearms into our country.”