Over the past week, law enforcement officers have been busy investigating a few homicide incidents – with reports of at least four killings, bringing the current figure to 48.
The wanton gun violence has not dissipated, despite recent legislation enacted by the authorities to impose stiffer penalties for the illegal possession of guns, ammunition and other gun related crimes.
Police detained a male suspect in connection with the latest fatal shooting that occurred, Wednesday, along Chaussee Road, Castries. Dead is Eli Joseph, of Garrand, Babonneau.
The officers also impounded a bullet-ridden vehicle in connection with this latest incident.
Reports indicate that about 7.30p.m., a motor car came under fire resulting in injuries to the occupants. Joseph, 20 succumbed to his injuries while three other individuals were transported to hospital.
One individual is reportedly in a critical condition, while the other two are in stable condition.
In another report, Babonneau residents were awakened by the sounds of rapid gunfire in the early hours of Monday (August 29). This was linked to the death of Jelanie Joseph aka “Joe”.
Bartholomew Joseph, father of the deceased, recalled the horrifying details to reporters after he discovered his son’s body.
Joseph told St Lucia Times that about 2: 45 a.m., he awoke to the sounds of “some gunshots bursting – like a machine gun…”
The family’s worst fears unfolded when Bartholomew’s niece broke the news about five minutes later, screaming out that ‘Joe’ had been shot.
On Sunday, police reported that Kelvin Polius of Belair was shot dead, following an incident that occurred within the vicinity of Roseau, about 1:10 a.m.
Another man is nursing gunshot wounds from that early Sunday morning shooting at Roseau. He is reportedly in stable condition.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, police apprehended a suspect in connection with a chopping incident that occurred at Augier, Vieux Fort about 11:15 a.m., resulting in the death of Leroy Roberts aka “Indigga”. He is reported to have sustained chop wounds to the body.
Family members say Roberts fathered four children and they are unaware of the circumstances surrounding the incident.
In a latter incident, on Tuesday, police reported that a man’s left hand had been severed during an incident, at La Croix Maingot, at about 1:32 p.m. The individual was later transported to the OKEU Hospital, while community residents retrieved the severed hand and handed it over to the police.
The police are reported to have taken the severed hand to the hospital.
In other matters, law enforcement officers report that the decomposed body found on July 23 at Lower Morne Road, Castries, has been identified as that of Sasha Polius, 23.
Relatives reported that they last saw Polius on July 17 when she left to attend an outdoor activity.
With tensions mounting amidst a public outcry as to the effectiveness and quick response from officers of the Royal St Lucia Police Force [RSLPF] to handle this escalating crime situation – Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre, this week told reporters, there is an urgent need for the police to review their tactics amid a rise in criminal activity.
While reaffirming his government’s commitment to provide the necessary support to the RSLPF in its fight against crime, he noted that it’s a ‘serious situation’ that requires stern and appropriate action.
“There were two murders over the weekend, and I must say that the police will have to (review) their tactics. What they’re doing is obviously not working,” said PM Pierre, the minster responsible for National Security.
He declared: “I think the police will now have to go back to the drawing board and rethink their tactics and look at the ways and means in which they could stop that scourge.”
Noting that he is no expert on criminal matters and police operational procedures, Pierre said his role as National Security Minister is to make resources and vehicles available to the RSLPF.
He stressed: “I cannot opine on operational matters in the police force and I will not.”
As matters unfold, law enforcement officers report that during an operation conducted this week they made some headway by confiscating guns and ammunition in separate incidents.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Elvis Thomas, officer in charge of the Northern Division reported that on Wednesday, about 3:00p.m., law officers visited an establishment in Gros Islet.
During a search, one black P30 .40 pistol and ten rounds of 40 ammunition was recovered. Christopher Clarke alias “Christophe” of Augier, Vieux Fort was arrested and charged for the illegal possession of firearm and ammunition.
Subsequently, bail conditions has been set as follows:
– Possession of firearm, $10,000 cash or suitable surety
– Possession of ammunition, $5,000 cash or suitable surety.
In addition, the suspect is to surrender all travel documents and he is not permitted to leave the state without court permission; and he is not to apply for any travel documents and is to report to the Vieux Fort police station every Wednesday, between 7.00 a.m. and 7.00p.m.
The matter was adjourned to September, 14.
On Tuesday, about 6.00p.m., a continent of officers from the Gros Islet, Rodney Bay and Babonneau police stations and the special patrol group conducted ‘operational exercises’ throughout the vicinity of the community.
Reports state that following a search on a small wooden structure at Babonneau, and on some persons present, a Glock 380 pistol and 13 .380 rounds of ammunition were recovered from one of the individuals. Police have taken the suspect into custody and charges will follow soon.
Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) with responsibility for the Central Division of the RSLPF, Ronald Phillip, has commended officers for their speedy and thorough response. He called on members of the public with information to contact the police expeditiously.
On Wednesday, a detachment of officers attached to the Special Services Unit, Criminal Investigations Department, Special Patrol Group and Central Police Station, jointly responded to a report of a shooting along Chaussee Road, Castries.
In the process, the joint team of officers pursued a motorcar, which was suspected to have been involved in the incident. As a result, the vehicle was later impounded in Morne Serpent, Gros Islet and a male suspect was apprehended.
In response to a concerted appeal from the authorities and civil society to step in to avert these dangerous act that is affecting the citizenry, ACP Phillip asserted: “The RSLPF remains ever committed to ensuring citizen security. A call is being made to all law abiding citizens to join our efforts, as there will be heightened police presence and activities moving forward, as we attempt to deal with this scourge.”