Once by accident I watched a video of a man being hacked to death by a chain saw-wielding fiend. I had not expected it, to say the least, yet somehow that day as I sat in a dusty roadside restaurant, my friend’s companion thought it would be entertaining to shock me with a grotesque dose of terror. I was shaken. I mean, what kind of sicko walked around with a video of someone’s head being chopped off on their phone, let alone shared it with others?
This was a real person, not a scene from a low budget Hollywood movie. He had a family, and possibly friends who would miss him. I couldn’t get it out of my head for days. I later found that his death was drug related, and that it was the sort of revenge not uncommon to the underworld. It didn’t make it any less traumatic however, particularly considering there had been two other men sitting gagged and bound up next to him who witnessed his death first-hand. I am doubtful whether either of them made it out alive.
Imagine the collective dismay, mine and that of most other local citizens, to see a video of that nature circulating last week, with a young man, presumably Saint Lucian, begging for his life. The apparent torture video has been making the rounds for the last week or so, with friends and family identifying the person in the video as Scott Atkins. In the video he is seen wearing a shirt that appears to be stained with blood, while calling out to his mother and begging someone by the name of Shawn to quit playing around and pay up.
The immediate reaction of many was that the video had to be staged. Then, several other videos surfaced and people seemed slowly to change their minds about its genuineness, one viewer pointing out that there had once been a similar case in a nearby island which people had initially dismissed, which was found to be authentic. The videos continued to go viral, and first thing on Monday morning local police acknowledged receipt.
“What we can say is that a report was made by two female individuals who said that this is their brother, and that he is not in Saint Lucia,” Acting Commissioner Milton Desir told the media.
Desir said usually in cases of that nature, the Ministry of External Affairs would get involved. As the incident appeared to have occurred outside Saint Lucia, it was outside the jurisdiction of local police.
“If it is in Saint Lucia then it probably makes it a lot easier but since it’s not in our jurisdiction, and we’re not even sure if this thing is in Venezuela or wherever, but that is the report we received,” he said.
The viral video had not gone over the head of government officials. Acting Prime Minister in the absence of Allen Chastanet, Minister for Equity, Social Justice, and Empowerment Lenard Montoute, was particularly concerned about the number of young people who had over the years been injured or killed as a result of trafficking illicit commodities.
“So many young people have lost their lives through engagement in that kind of activity,” Montoute said. “It further exacerbates the crime situation in our country because of course, as you’re aware, disputes in that kind of business are settled very often with murder and so, I’m just saying that I think it’s very unfortunate that this could be going around. People have said that they recognize the young man as a Saint Lucian, and I am hoping that the police will look into the matter, and hopefully, as I said, that we can have the best possible outcome in that unfortunate situation.”
This week even the Venezuelan Embassy in Saint Lucia was speaking out about the incident. Ambassador Leiff Escalona took the opportunity to assure all that her government remained committed to the war on drugs.
“We sympathize with this young man’s family and hope that this situation is resolved,” she said. “The authorities cannot [act] based on rumours. We don’t know if this situation really happened in Venezuela. However, this embassy has sent the little and very inexact information that has been received to the authorities in Venezuela. The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is available to help Saint Lucia, as well as other countries in the region, in putting a stop to the illegal drug trade.”
As production increases, so too does consumption of drugs in developed nations like the United States. As noted by Ambassador Escalona: “All countries which find themselves in the middle of this drug trafficking route must unite to combat this terrible evil that affects us all, especially the most vulnerable families.”
Family members of the young man in the videos have only spoken out to say that he has been out of Saint Lucia since last year. The last unanswered message on Scott Atkin’s Facebook page reads: “Hey bro, you good? Like [this post] if yes, ignore if not . . .”