Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson speaks yesterday. Photo: Koy Martin
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
AFTER three double homicides in as many weeks, Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson issued a blunt warning to Bahamians yesterday: “Be careful with the company you keep.”
“I shall not go any further than that,” he said to the press. “Y’all are intelligent people.”
He discussed the double homicides in Sandilands Village on December 3 that killed a man and a woman, the Jubilee Gardens shooting on December 5 that killed two men and the killing of a man and a woman in Joan’s Heights on December 18.
After each case, he repeated the same line: “It is very important that we know something about the persons we are in company with...I can’t emphasise that enough.”
Despite the recent flurry of criminal activity, Commissioner Ferguson insisted people should go out and have fun this Christmas season because they will not be targeted.
Commissioner Ferguson said police have people in custody they believe are responsible for the Joan’s Heights murders and are following significant leads with respect to the other double homicides.
He also said people are in custody they believe to be responsible for the death of Mario Cartwright, a husband and father of three small children killed in the Coconut Grove last week. Cartwright was shot when he walked into a convenience store during an armed robbery.
He said the alleged suspects are young and new to the criminal system.
“These are disorganised persons who are going around, once they have a gun in their hand and want to make a couple dollars, they will go and they panic and things happen,” he said during a press conference at police headquarters.
Asked if the double homicides are related or concern gang activity, he said officers see no connection among the matters yet, but suggested he couldn’t reveal certain information to the public.
The commissioner also told people not to be afraid to go about their daily lives this holiday season.
“I want the Bahamian public not to be fearful,” he said. “I want the Bahamian public to go out, particularly in this season, and do your shopping. We have lots of police officers out there, some in uniform, some in plain clothes and we will continue to protect them. We want the Bahamian public to come and enjoy the Junkanoo. You know how we like coming around this season, we like to enjoy our parties – y’all go out and enjoy yourself.
“Trust me, you are not targeted. You heard it from me. I am telling you what we know, everyone else said what they know. We are very aware of what’s going on and we will not let you down. We understand that when you have one, two, three killings that is always an issue, not so much the numbers, but the fear, and we are doing everything we possibly can to reduce that fear of crime.”
The Royal Bahamas Police Force disclosed also year-to-date statistics for major crimes yesterday.
There were 89 murders from January 1 to December 18, a decrease from last year’s 122 murders in the same time period, according to police.
Armed robbery incidents declined 16 percent, from 547 to 460 during the same time period while reports of stolen vehicles declined 20 percent, from 450 to 361.
The number of shootings also declined, from 110 to 67, a difference of 39 percent.
The only major crime category that saw increase in reported incidents is rape. There were 55 reported rape incidents in 2018 to date compared to 49 in 2017 at this point, an increase of 12 percent.