COP says public has nothing to fear

Senior executive command of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, (centre) COP Anthony Ferguson.

Ferguson warns, however, “be careful with the company you keep”

 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson assured the public yesterday that despite a spate of recent murders this month, they have nothing to fear.

However, he warned individuals to be very careful with the company they keep, suggesting while some of the recent victims were not the intended targets, they were killed because they were associating with someone who was being targeted.

Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson addresses media at police headquarters on East St over the recent spate of murders. (PHOTO: Royston Jones Jr.)

“One has to be very careful with the company that you are in. I shall not go any further into that. You are intelligent people,” the commissioner said during a press conference at police headquarters.

He continued, “The police know a lot of things. The police are not at liberty to investigate these matters in the press. However, you have members from the community — some members —they wake up and float some things on social media and try to create panic in the community.

“That’s not a good thing. As your commissioner, I can assure you; I can assure you,  you are not [being] targeted.

“All I say to you is be very, very concerned with the company that you keep or the company that you are in, and you should be relatively clear and safe.”

With more than a week remaining in the year, there have been 10 murders this month — double the five murders recorded in December 2017.

Of the incidents this month, three were double murders.

Ashlee Hilton, 30, and George Deveaux, 33, were shot dead at Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre on Fox Hill Road on December 3.

The next day, two men sitting inside a vehicle in Jubilee Gardens were shot and killed.

Yesterday, Ferguson said police were following significant leads into both double murders.

Last week Tuesday, a man was shot and killed in Fort Fincastle.

According to Ferguson, a suspect was taken into custody and is assisting police with that investigation.

Mario Cartwright, 44, was shot and killed during an armed robbery of a convenience store on First Street, Coconut Grove last Wednesday.

The commissioner said authorities arrested the people who they believe are responsible for that incident and have located the murder weapon.

According to Ferguson, the suspects were very young and had not been processed for any previous matters.

He suggested the assailants were seeking to get quick cash and panicked during the armed robbery.

They reportedly stole $400.

A triple shooting in Ridgeland Park West left one man dead last Saturday.

Additionally, around midnight Tuesday, James Johnson, 29, and Kevisha Kerika Richards, 24, were shot outside a residence on New Hope Drive, Joan’s Heights.

Johnson died on scene, while Richards died in hospital.

Speaking to the double murder in Joan’s Heights, Ferguson repeated that individuals must be aware of who they associate with.

He said a man was arrested in connection with that shooting and is expected to be charged very shortly.

Around 10 a.m. Tuesday, police reported that a man was found with gunshot wounds in a residence on Inagua Avenue, Grand Bahama.

It was the fifth murder for the island for the year.

The commissioner said the man, who was in his mid-50s, is believed to have been killed on Sunday and was discovered by a friend on Tuesday.

Asked whether any of the shootings, particularly the three double murders were connected, Ferguson said there was no evidence to suggest that at this time, but investigations were ongoing.

“We have not seen any connection with all of the matters, but as I indicated I am the kind of person; we talk pointedly to family members when we sit them, but I am very careful [not] to bring the business that we talk to family members [about] while we are there,” he said.

“Suffice it to say, as I indicated before, I think people ought to be very careful with the company they keep and [who they] congregate with.”

Asked what strategies are being employed to curb the recent uptick in murders, Ferguson said police continue to saturate New Providence.

He said while one incident is one too many, it is impossible to prevent all crimes.

“We understand quite well when you have one, two, three killings it strikes fear and that is always an issue — not such much the numbers but the fear, and we are doing everything we possibly can to reduce that fear,” Ferguson said.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis declared that Bahamians were no longer fearful of crime.

He said he was pleased and encouraged by what law enforcement has been doing.

Police released crime statistics yesterday which showed the at least four major categories of crime, including murders and armed robbery was down.
Rapes, however, increased 12 per cent year-on-year.

There have been 89 murders for the year, compared to the 122 murders up to this point last year. This represents a 27 per cent decrease in murders.