One Weekend Four Murders

Looking dead into cameras on Monday Assistant Police Commissioner in Charge of Crime Frances Henry called on witnesses to at least two of the island’s latest murders to come forward. Henry made the point that the murder of Lester ‘Bobby’ Francis in Bois d’Orange and the murder of Evencius Francis in Dennery had both happened in what would be considered public places.
ACP Henry seemed not yet accustomed to the limelight her post brings. Before her, Vernon Francois, now the nation’s police commissioner, would be the one fielding questions from the impatient press, concerned only with their next soundbite. This was not your normal press corps of days gone by, now the media was competing with facebook, BB-blasts and more. No doubt some in the room had already obtained information that the police may be trying to protect in order to prepare a case. The questions would be direct, involving details that but for the new-age media would have only come out during a court case or a sentencing hearing.
ACP Francis chose her words very carefully, while trying to bring across the point that Francois too had tried to bring home several times: the police cannot do it alone. Solving crime involved the participation of all St Lucians, and in particular catching and convicting perpetrators of crimes, more often than not required witnesses.
On the weekend alone St Lucia had recorded four homicides, among them the killing of a police officer on Sunday and a young man on Monday morning.  All were as a result of firearms.
In the wee hours of Friday morning (1:30am), explained ACP Henry, police were called to the scene of the Bois d’Orange shooting. After arriving at a club called Sizzlers (formally Parrot Hideaway) police say they found a vehicle riddled with bullets and also the lifeless body of 28-year-old Lester Francis. Police said that another person in the vehicle, identified as Jonathan Anthony aka “Mega” of the Reduit area, was taken to Tapion Hospital. ACP Henry revealed that up until Monday police have been unable to speak with the surviving victim of the shooting.
Saturday’s shooting occurred at a community dance in En Bas Cacao, Dennery.
“An altercation ensued between a group of individuals which resulted in the discharging of a firearm,” explained Henry. As a result 30-year-old Evencius Francis was killed.
Crime hit home for the Royal St Lucia Police Force on Sunday when they received reports of the shooting death of Special Police Constable Lucan Lesmond. A female is in custody assisting with this particular investigation.
On Monday morning, the news did not get better as the nation learned of a shooting in Castries that left Miguel Augustin also known as “Reds” dead. Augustin was found in a pool of blood on St Louis Street.
“Large numbers of persons congregated in these areas. They were both social events,” said Henry speaking of the first two murders of the weekend. “One was a dance, the other was karaoke. From what we know there were scores of persons present. There is nothing to indicate at this time that any precaution was taken so as to conceal who the perpetrators of these incidents were. In that vein I am soliciting information from any members of the public who may have some information regarding any of these incidents.”
Meanwhile, ACP Henry was not prepared to say that the victim who survived the Bois d’Orange shooting was resistant to police questioning. She did admit that police have been back to the hospital on several occasions to speak with the victim but have been unable to.
“Every attempt at conducting an interview with him, we have not been able to do that,” said ACP Henry. “It is quite evident that the injuries he sustained are very serious. He was considered to be very critical at the time. His wellbeing is what is paramount. If we attempted to speak with him and he indicated he was in extreme pain we have had
advisement from the doctors. At this point in time, whether it is a ploy not to give us the information or otherwise, I am not going to make that judgment. I am taking it at face value. He had emergency surgery.”
The roadblocks the police face in terms of getting eyewitness accounts cannot be overstated.
“Once you have an incident involving gun play what is important to the persons around at the
time is to seek shelter and safety. A lot of people would have left the scene and [these are] people with information that is very crucial to identification and pursuit of the perpetrators. What we are looking for is the people who were at the scene. We have interviewed a few people. But there were record crowds at both of these events.”
The current crime situation in Saint Lucia is reminiscent of “gang related” shootings in 2010 that claimed several lives and spurred the police to launch the much-criticized “Operation Restore Confidence.”
“If one looks at the trends and our own Intel on the ground . . . I can tell you that every precaution is being taken by the executive of the RSLPF to ensure that we do not return to that state early in 2010 before we went into Operation Restore Confidence,” said ACP
There had been high level meetings of the RSLPF to strategize a response to the increase level of gun related crimes.
“Starting this evening we are now putting out a response to ensure we minimize the activity which will give rise to an escalation to the proportions that we saw in 2010.”

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