In an instant, a celebration turned into horror. A birthday party for a pregnant woman in Montel Heights became the target of a mass shooting. Video clips circulated online showed how panic suddenly struck as people scrambled for cover.
Fifteen people were shot, ten of them female and four of them children. A ten-year-old was among those injured. Three more people were hurt with non-gunshot injuries.
It’s a miracle that no one was killed. Sadly, it was far more likely that such an attack could take place given the number of guns in circulation. More than that, while the investigation is still in its early stages, we fear for the type of gun that might have been used in the incident.
Last year, also in Montel Heights, another mass shooting injured five people, including a child, again at a party. In April, five people were shot with an automatic weapon in the Montagu Beach area.
Again in April, six people were injured in a drive-by shooting in Kemp Road as they stood outside a nightclub. The list goes on.
National Security Minister Marvin Dames sounded the warning alarm back in February. He said that assault rifles were the weapon of choice now.
“You know, people want assault rifles now. So one time you go to shoot, you fire and you hit one person. You have assault rifles now, you fire, you ain’t hitting one person, you hitting about two or three,” he said.
That’s far too dangerous a slope to go down, and we applaud every effort by the police in their battle against such attacks.
It has to start before responding to the scene, of course. We must find these weapons and stop them from getting into our country.
If that means police having to conduct more searches, so be it. If that means more road blocks of areas at risk, so be it. If that means thorough examination of imports, so be it. These guns are bigger than handguns too so should be easier to find.
And as a community we should know it doesn’t start with the police. If we know of someone with such a weapon, then it is for no good. We should tell the police so we can help them weed them off the streets.
If you know of someone with such a weapon and don’t report it – and it ends up being used in a crime – you are partly to blame. You could have stopped a shooting. You could have stopped a murder. Act before it gets too late and tell the police.
These types of weapons should never be acceptable in our communities. We must never let this type of attack become commonplace.
A devoted public servant
Brent Symonette has a long history of public service to the country.
As he steps aside from his post, we welcome that service that he has given – and will no doubt continue to give for his constituents in St Anne’s.
It is difficult in our country for successful businessmen to wear the hat of both private company boss and public servant as MP, and we thank him for seeking to serve at a time when he could easily have sat back and lived off the fruits of his business success.
At the same time, however, while we do not know the exact reasons for his departure, questions had certainly been raised about Mr Symonette – in one part over his part ownership of the Town Centre Mall where the new post office had relocated, and also about his connections to Bahamas Hot Mix and any contracts it had been awarded or was vying for.
Again, that can be difficult in our country. The reason that Hot Mix gets so many contracts is in part because there are few companies in The Bahamas of the size and reputation to rival them.
His departure eases that perception – but also removes from the Cabinet a keen business mind that is an asset to the country.
His successor, Elsworth Johnson, will have big shoes to fill. We wish him luck.