A video on social media assailed the senses of law-abiding Barbadians with images of four men approaching another man and riddling him with bullets.
Traditional media would later confirm it was not a hoax, but an actual murder.
The September security video recording of the murder of taxi driver Ricardo Anthony Bryan as he left his vehicle headed for the entrance of Lucky Horseshoe in Warrens, St Michael symbolized the of year as gunshots rang out in traditional and not so traditional hotspots across the island.
The many lifeless bodies, mostly of young men, that resulted from the gunplay left relatives distraught, the entire nation in shock and even more young men hurled before the courts.
Government Senator David Durant likened the shootings to the wild, wild west.
At the same time, blaming deviant youth for the gun crimes, Opposition Barbados Labour Party Member of Parliament for St James Central Kerry Symmonds said: “What we need to do is implement what is already written in our law books.
“Get tough on these young men who feel that a gun is their God and they can do whatever they want with it.”
Police reported 21 murders so far this year, compared to 35 for all of last year. However, while indicating serious crime was down, lawmen have not yet given up-to-date statistics.
In fact, the Inter-American Development criticized the overall lack of data, stating that despite growing concern over perceived increases in crime, actual research into violence and other criminal acts here – its causes, incidence and effects – remained glaringly limited.
“Policy decisions relating to crime reduction necessitate a continuous supply of empirical work that will give decision makers the evidence needed to make rational choices regarding possible strategies,” it said.
Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite took a long-term view of crime on the island. While providing no figures, both men said that the crime situation was better than it was before.
According to Brathwaite, a look over the past five years would show that crime was not spiralling out of control. However, he conceded that violence, especially gun-related incidents, was quite a worry.
“The caveat, I admit, the one concern, is the level of gun-related crimes, which concerned us immensely,” the Attorney General said.
Even in the face of a spike in gun-related crimes, Griffith said in September Barbados had been safer than it had been in 15 years.
“We are actually better off statistically today than ten years ago”, he said in a statement that challenged the perception of rampant crime, and continued, “in fact, for the last 15 years, crime in Barbados was always annually in excess of 8,000 crimes. For the last two years, crime has been less than 8,000, and this year it’s also on track to be less”.
Griffith’s statement came against the backdrop of the Lucky Horseshoe shooting, which itself was preceded by gunmen spraying a party house in Wotton with bullets from AK47 rifles, injuring four people, including a teenager who was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital suffering two gunshot wounds to his head.
The gunfire reportedly lasted as long as seven minutes, and neighbours related how they took to their floors movie-style until the barrage of bullets had stopped.
Just a few days earlier gunmen had broken into the St Lucy home of Andre Hinds, shooting him dead before turning the guns on his pregnant wife, who survived only after tearfully pleading for her life.
With Barbadians calling for an end to the violence, the acting police chief pointed an accusing finger at unnamed Customs officials, accusing them of allowing illegal guns to enter the country without detection.
“We are still aware that weapons, firearms, are entering through our borders . . . we have to continue and strive for better cooperation collaboration at our borders,” Griffith had indicated in a statement that angered the National Union of Public Workers, the trade union that represents Customs officers.
Griffith spoke of “an abundance of high calibre weapons and large quantities of available ammunition on the streets”, adding, “Our intelligence suggests they are coming through legitimate ports, either assisted by officials, or not detected by them at our borders.”
In spite of the gun crimes, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite refused to budge from his position that there would be no gun amnesty.
Brathwaite told Barbados TODAY early in the year that he took guidance from Royal Barbados Police Force top bras who were not keen on a reprieve.
“Police still have to ask questions if a gun is brought in . . . and have to do tests of the guns. Added to that, there is no guarantee that people are going to turn in their guns,” Brathwaite said.
Meantime, speaking early in 2016, Acting Commissioner Griffith had revealed a desire to reduce crime to its lowest level in over a decade.
“Our record of achievements includes our ability over the past two years to maintain crime levels at their lowest within the past 15 years. It must be noted though, there was an increase in crime last year. This comes against the performance, where there was a record of 14 per cent decrease in crime the previous year ”.
He vowed to further drive down the numbers.