St. John’s Antigua- As police, politicians and residents from Point and Villa areas engaged in an inaugural community crime fighting meeting at Villa Primary School Thursday night, 500 yards away 21-year-old Shawn Josiah was walking in Point when he was shot in the arm by an unknown assailant.
Superintendent of Police Nuffield Burnette reported, “The young man, 21-year-old Shawn Josiah was shot in the arm but he did not see the assailant. We were having a highly interactive meeting when we heard of the incident.”
Josiah’s injuries are not life threatening and he was treated and discharged from hospital.
Burnette, who heads the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), said the incident was most unfortunate and police intend to put into effect, recommendations made by residents during the town hall meeting that was organized to address similar incidents.
There have been as many as five shootings in the two communities in the month of May.
“You cannot prevent everything. The shooting occurred in an area called Booby Alley and it is one of the troubled areas where we are hoping to restore peace and civility,” Burnette said.
Then speaking of the meeting, Burnette described it as “successful, interactive, informative.”
“A lot of contributions poured in from the villagers and already residents have asked us to return as often as we like and they suggested other areas. That is our intention. We are looking at partnering more on how to deal with the issues,” Burnette said.
The senior officer, who has approximately 30 years experience in the force, said the meeting was the first of its kind as far as he can recall.
“Present were Commisioner of Police Vere Browne, his deputies, assistant commissioner, National Security Minister Dr Errol Cort, former justice minister and Senator Colin Derrick, constituency representative Gaston Browne and a wide cross section of villagers. We never had all those sides together for a community meeting of the sort.
“We all had our say. There were questions from both sides and answers from both sides and we wish to go into all the communities and do same,” Burnette said.
On Monday, the force is set to meet to further discuss the suggestions made and to find other ways to be proactive in their efforts.
The crime chief said, “We are discussing having more meetings. I cannot say whether it would be done every month, but on Monday we will meet to have discussions to determine such. In the meantime we are keeping up patrols.”
At the start of the meeting Commissioner Browne laid his cards on the table saying, “we will not sweep anything under the carpet.”
He noted that all cases would be treated with the same level of fairness and transparency regardless of the accused or victim, as he acknowledged five officers were arrested for the year. One of the five was convicted for cannabis possession.
The remaining lawmen face the court on charges including murder, robbery, wounding and larceny.
As he congratulated people for visiting his office and appealing for intervention in the two communities, he urged residents to further open up about the issues affecting them.
“Many of us know 90 per cent of the persons who are doing (crime) but because of lack of confidence we are not coming forward. We are here to bring that level of confidence even higher. Look at what happens when you call and we respond quickly; because of that we recently got three people off the streets and put them away in another place,” Browne said.
The officer was referring to the arrests of three young men. Two, both 23 years, are charged with shooting with intent. The third and one of the 23-year-old men were caught with unlicensed firearms on different dates.
Both Browne and Burnette lamented they have seen a “deviance” by some of the youth, particularly males, who have been involved in shooting and other wounding matters as well as break-ins.
The commissioner pledged the force would improve it its method of crime fighting to stay on top of new crime trends.