UPDATED Thursday 4pm: Police have formally identified the boy as 15-year-old Gino Evante Finley, of Springfield Road.
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
A BRAZEN daytime robbery yesterday ended with police shooting one teenage suspect dead and apprehending two more after the trio, along with another armed man, allegedly tied up an employee, held customers at gunpoint and robbed the QVS Pharmacy in the Seagrape Shopping Plaza.
Several packs of cigarettes were seen scattered throughout the nearby parking lot, confirmed by police to be the main component of the suspects’ haul, which included some cash. Some customers were also robbed.
The Ministry of Education confirmed last night that the dead boy was a tenth grade student from R M Bailey Senior High School.
Many onlookers said the incident played out like a scene from a movie. One customer, who was inside the store when the daring robbery occurred, described it as a scene of chaos and panic.
The customer, who asked not to be named, told The Tribune that assailants entered the store and demanded several items. Not satisfied with the speed of the cashier, two of the suspects moved behind the counter and tied her up, while another asked him to get on the ground.
“It looked like students, but you can’t really say,” the witness said.
“This really changes a lot, like how you look at life right now. I’m a little shaken up, (but) alright. They came right behind the cashier (and) pulled a gun on us.
“They told me to get on the ground,” the witness continued. “They tried to tie me but they couldn’t do it. I saw three of the four (suspects).”
He said he recalled seeing four customers scattered throughout the store while shopping. He said the harrowing event left him confused and shocked by how easily he could have lost his life.
According to Assistant Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander, alert officers responded to the call of a robbery in progress at the pharmacy.
Reports are that the four suspects entered the QVS Pharmacy shortly after 11am, demanded cash and other merchandise from the employees and customers, tied up at least one employee and attempted to tie up a male customer before fleeing the store on foot.
Officers in the immediate vicinity responded and once on the scene, encountered all four males, two of whom were brandishing firearms.
ACP Fernander said police gave chase, resulting in the suspects opening fire at police. Officers returned shots, fatally wounding one of the suspects. He indicated that two of the remaining three suspects were caught by officers a short time later near the crime scene.
“(Police) returned fire and eventually fatally shooting one of the individuals, who collapsed at the rear of the store. Just next to him his gun was found - a pistol was found not too far away from him. Two other culprits were later found in the vicinity and they were found in possession of some cash and also some items that you saw earlier in the parking lot, an assortment of cigarettes that they dropped as they were trying to flee from the officers.”
He continued: “At this present time we are actively investigating. As you can see the coroner came and she is a part of the investigation at this time.
“There is a lot of things going around in social media to say that they are school kids. We can’t say that at this time, that is a line of inquiry that we are following. The deceased appears to be a young child who should have been in school, but we are not confirming this at this present time.
“This is a line of inquiry that we are following and as we move with the investigation, we will be able to update you with respect to the investigation.”
However, last evening the Ministry of Education confirmed that the victim was an R M Bailey Senior High School student.
“As a police investigation is still ongoing, we have very few details to share with the public at this time,” the statement from Education Director Lionel Sands noted. “Nonetheless, we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the young man.
“The events surrounding this tragic incident point to a need for continued reform in our education system and I plead with the country to assist us in our efforts to implement the necessary reforms to reduce the amount of criminality and violence in our young men.”
Mr Sands said officials will offer counselling and support services to students and staff who are affected.
Line of duty
ACP Fernander said police are searching for the fourth suspect and asked the public to pray for members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force as they attempt to bring an end to crime.
ACP Fernander said officers are being pushed to the limit on a daily basis, operating with the fear that at any moment they could lose their lives in the line of duty.
He said: “And we want the members of the public, this is a Christian nation, to continue to pray for us because we are in the line of fire every day and we have families.
“We leave home, again, we don’t know if we are going to return. So we want the country to please continue to pray for their police force for guidance, that the good Lord will continue to guide us to remove this handful of criminals who continue to try to wreak havoc on the country.
“We will not stand by and let that happen. So it is a warning for the others out there, if you continue in your old ways, your bad ways in crime, we will be there for you. We will be there for you to put you wherever you belong; that is Fox Hill (in prison).”
ACP Fernander added: “If you continue in your old ways, this will be the end result at the end of the day.”
Yesterday’s incident marked the second police involved fatality in less than a week. A man was shot dead by police after a car chase and shootout on Saturday afternoon in Pride Estates. Both matters are currently being investigated by Coroner Jeanine Weech Gomez.