By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
THE spate of recent fatal shootings in Grand Bahama has sparked concern not only for the proliferation of illegal guns, but also for the total disregard of human life.
There have been seven homicides on the island so far this year, according to The Tribune’s records, including the killings of three persons within a three-day span last week.
According to police, there were 17 murders in Grand Bahama in 2015 and 10 in 2014.
Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Emrick Seymour has lamented the situation on the island. “These recent homicides are a major concern to us,” he said.
He said the “heinous acts of violence” are being committed by persons who have “no sanctity for life or their fellow human beings”. This is the same sentiment that is being expressed by many in the community, including two well-known religious leaders.
Pastor Eddie Victor, a civic leader and pastor of Living Water Assembly of God Church, said that he and his wife were very shocked over the spate of murders last week in Grand Bahama.
“We were saying how crazy it is that we had three murders in one week - we are very concerned about this,” he told The Tribune.
“What it shows is how the social fibre of the community in Grand Bahama has deteriorated. A selfish culture has arisen; it is a culture that has less respect for human life, and there is no longer the fear in young people or persons when it comes to someone’s life anymore; they have been desensitised,” he said.
Around 2am on Thursday, a young man was shot at the Fish Fry in Smith’s Point. He later died in hospital.
Hours later, 49-year-old customs officer Kevin Hanna was shot outside his home in South Bahamia. He too died in hospital.
On Sunday, a 22-year-old Grand Bahama man was found by police in a Dodge van around 2am with gunshot wounds. The victim, said to be Sanchez Ferguson, was taken to hospital where he later died.
Investigations are also still underway into the murders of a man and a woman who were shot dead in an area known as “the ghetto” on March 21. Another person who was shot during that attack survived and was taken to hospital.
Pastor Victor said that the flow of guns coming in the country is a major problem.
He does not believe that the government should be blamed for the murders and crime. “We need leaders from among all ranks to be concerned about what is going on and help address the problem,” he said. “Grand Bahama has an economic social problem. We have an economy that is still in crisis.”
Rev Peter Pinder, president of the Grand Bahama Christian Council, said that the entire community is affected by the recent murders.
“When a murder happens it affects extended family members, co-workers, and the community.
“I am convinced it is not a government or political problem; it is a sin problem. But as long as there are people who have little care for human life and dignity of life, these things will happen. We need to address it as a country, and the church needs to address it.”
Rev Pinder said there are too many single parent households where children are left alone while their parents go off to work.
“Children are not getting the kind of discipline they need at home, and that is the culture in which we live that is contributing to the problem we are now having. Also churches are moving away from Sunday school, and the level of religious knowledge has declined in the schools. And so all of these things contribute to the problem,” he said.
There have been 33 homicides in the Bahamas so far this year, according to The Tribune’s records.