A gut-wrenching cry was heard within the compound of Nautilus Beach Apartments on Bay Street, on the outskirts of the City this afternoon, as relatives and friends huddled underneath a beach umbrella consoling each other, while their loved one – an ex-soldier – lay dead in his apartment with a gunshot wound to the head.
The tragic passing of 56-year-old ex-Barbados Coast Guard commanding officer Major Sean Reece, whose death remains a mystery, proved too much for one elderly female family member to bear. Her wails could be heard from outside the walls of the apartment building where his lifeless body was found around 9:30 this morning with a fatal wound to the head after a gunshot was heard.
Other family members, including Reece’s wife of less than four months, who reportedly identified the body, and his brother Nicholas also wept openly but were also too distraught to speak to the media, as they struggled to come to terms with the loss of their relative who joined with them in celebrating his father’s 92nd birthday at the weekend.
Reece, a military officer of nearly 30 years’ experience, was a member of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) from 1982 until his retirement in December 2011.
It was about six years ago that he was specially drafted into the marine wing of the BDF to “weed out” corruption. According to a December 2009 confidential document, he had mandated all officers to pass a polygraph examination, and some officers had been moved to non-sensitive slots because of their polygraph results.
Police say they are treating his death as unnatural.
Acting Assistant Superintendent of Police David Welch said a firearm was also discovered in the same room.
However, with details on Reece’s death still sketchy, all that the Chief of Staff of the BDF, Colonel Alvin Quintyne, would say today, in a prepared statement, was that, “Headquarters, Barbados Defence Force is deeply saddened by news of the untimely death of Mr Sean Reece.
“The Chief of Staff, officers, enlisted ranks and civilian staff extend their sincerest condolences to his family and friends during this most difficult period,” the release added.
Reece’s death comes exactly four years after another member of the army died from a gunshot to the head. Reports were that Able-Bodied Seaman Lance Corporal Adrian Greenidge died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where he was rushed after shooting himself in the head.
The incident is said to have taken place at the BDF headquarters, the Garrison, St Michael. It had been further reported that the 38-year-old soldier used his service weapon to commit the act.