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Soufriere Stand-off: One Dead, Two Injured

AN incident in the town of Soufriere late Tuesday afternoon involving multiple police shootings and hundreds of enraged residents has left one man dead and two police officers nursing injuries at St. Jude Hospital.

Dead is Kervin Joseph of New Development, age unknown, although unconfirmed reports placed him to be in his thirties.

Nursing a gunshot wound to the left leg is Constable 518 Darcheville. His colleague, Constable 845 Jn. Baptiste is nursing pains to his chest, back and head.

Both were still being cared for at St. Jude’s up to press time yesterday.

The Major Crimes Unit of the Police Force is investigating the homicide while Soufriere police are following up on a report made stating heavy damages to the ambulance that transported the officers away from the scene.

The VOICE learned that about five armed police officers on mobile patrol in the New Development area came upon Joseph ,who was stopped and searched by the officers. They found on his person a bag containing a cutlass and a variety of crops.

According to Inspector Luke Defreitas of the Soufriere Police Station, Joseph was being questioned by the officers to determine whether or not he was involved in praedial larceny when he resisted efforts to question him and ran away.

“Joseph then resisted arrest which resulted in a chase which ended near the New Development river,” a release from the police press office stated.

The release further stated that during the chase Joseph picked up two stones which he threw at the police both striking Constable Jn Baptiste in the chest causing injury to him.

The VOICE learned that a struggle ensued between Joseph and Constable Jn Baptiste causing both men to fall into the river. The fall did not separate the two who continued to struggle during which time, said the police press release, Joseph made several attempts to disarm Constable Jn. Baptiste.

“Owing to the violent struggle, several rounds were discharged,” stated the police press release.

Reports indicated that the bullets were discharged from the firearm carried by Jn Baptiste since Joseph was unarmed. This was substantiated by reports stating that during the struggle Jn Baptiste’s firearm went off several times.

Constable Darcheville, who was on the scene, attempted to render assistance to Jn Baptiste but got shot in the left leg while doing so.

Police are unsure at what point Darcheville got shot, however noted that Jn. Baptiste appeared to be losing out in the fight against Joseph because at one point, according to police, he was seen lying in the river allegedly in a state of unconsciousness.

“Jn. Baptiste allegedly lost consciousness in the river and at that point another police officer discharged one round of ammunition at Joseph, hitting him in the torso,” noted a statement on the incident from the police press relations office.

The incident turned ugly when the crowd, which by the end of the struggle had turned into an angry mob as a result of the shooting of Joseph, attacked the ambulance that was taking away the two injured officers breaking its rear windscreen, rear lights and denting it severely on both sides.

The VOICE has since learned that the ambulance is now out of commission as a result of the damages it received because stones were thrown at it as it pulled away from the scene. Even the hearse that took away Joseph’s body was stoned although not to the extent as the ambulance.

Not even Soufriere Hospital escaped the wrath of the mob which threw stones onto its roof and at some of its windows while Joseph lay there. He succumbed to his injuries at the hospital.

Micah George is an established name in the journalism landscape in St. Lucia. He started his journalism tutelage under the critical eye of the Star Newspaper Publisher and well known journalist, Rick Wayne, as a freelancer. A few months later he moved to the Voice Newspaper under the guidance of the paper’s recognized editor, Guy Ellis in 1988.

Since then he has remained with the Voice Newspaper, progressing from a cub reporter covering court cases and the police to a senior journalist with a focus on parliamentary issues, government and politics. Read full bio...

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