By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
POLICE suspect a man who was shot dead on Sunday morning in Freeport was an innocent bystander caught in gunfire from two armed men who had just robbed a nearby nightspot.
Although identification is being withheld pending notification of next of kin, Assistant Commissioner of Police Samuel Butler said the deceased man was in his mid-30s and was likely an innocent pedestrian.
He is appealing to the public for any information that can assist with the investigation into the killing, which is Grand Bahama's fifth homicide for the year.
"We are appealing to members of the public in those areas of West Mall Drive between 1.45am and 2am who might have observed anything of interest to please bring it to our attention," ACP Butler said yesterday at police headquarters.
According to reports, around 1.45am on Sunday police were alerted to a person on the side of the street suffering from gunshot wounds. The man had sustained injuries to the abdomen and back.
ACP Butler said medical personnel were summoned to the scene and the man was taken to hospital for medical care.
"Unfortunately, he lost his battle with life," said the Grand Bahama police chief. "We learned that this came on the heels of a reported robbery at one of the local licenced nightclubs, and we suspect there may have been some relationship between both (incidents) where this young person who met his demise may have been an innocent walker along the street.
"We are still early in our investigations. We will continue in our pursuit of this matter to bring some resolve to it."
He said police are still trying to locate the next of kin before officially releasing the man's identity.
Additionally, he said police are very concerned about weapons being used to commit various offences that can cause harm to individuals in public areas.
"That is a very high concern of the police and we must ensure we go after these individuals," he stressed.
Two men were shot last week while at a local nightspot in Freeport. A man has been arrested and charged in connection with that incident.
ACP Butler said he is pleased with the good police work by officers in Grand Bahama in putting many individuals before the courts. He noted a small group of people are committing crime on the island.
"They are no strangers to our community and we continue to see many of the same persons we placed before the courts," he said.
"We ask the community to continue to be alert as to where they decide to go to socialise, the company they keep, and to be a part of the partnership with police by being responsible citizens to ensure we maintain safety."
As the commissioner of police prepares to make presentation on the mid-year review of general crime statistics on Thursday, ACP Butler said: "We feel we are in a good place. . . we feel reasonably good we have received a reduction in many areas, but one crime is one too many, and we are not relaxed in doing the people's business in keeping the community safe."
When asked about the use of ShotSpotter technology to assist police in Grand Bahama, ACP Butler said that it is not yet on the island.
"At the moment, it is not in GB, but it was launched in New Providence (earlier this year) and is working extremely well in terms of alerting and allowing the police to know when a weapon is being used and the precise location, and we have gotten tremendous results so far. It is intended to come to GB as the budget allows, and I am sure we will be receiving ours," he said.