Residents of Deacons Farm, St Michael got a rude awakening Wednesday night, as the sound of unbridled gunfire took hold of the community in the dead of the night.
It was around 11 p.m. when the shots rang out, catching many by surprise and throwing them into immediate panic and despair as they were literally shaken out of their sleep.
At the end of the worrying gunplay, no one was injured but several power lines were affected, throwing sections of the community deeper into darkness.
Up to late Thursday evening police were still seeking to get to bottom of the incident.
And when a Barbados TODAY team visited the area Thursday evening, it was met with a mixed response from residents, including some who simply did not want to get into any public discussion on the matter.
“Informers ‘haffi’ dead,” shouted one female resident as soon as the team arrived in the area.
Another man told Barbados TODAY he was simply not prepared to speak to the media for fear of victimization, while a woman, who was equally fearful, said she was lying in bed when the shooting started.
Amid varying accounts of how long the shooting drama lasted and what would have triggered the incident in the first place, one outspoken resident, who was seemingly completely unfazed, revealed that “this sort of thing happens down here all the time”, even though he suggested that Wednesday night’s episode was mild in comparison to what has now become the accepted norm.
“It wasn’t a sustained gunfire, it happened for a couple of seconds, about ten, and then it went off. It was about 15 shots,” he said, while recalling that a similar incident had occurred at the beginning of this year.
“New Year’s, in the morning . . . had a bunch of shots after the fireworks,” he said.
The resident, who did not want to be identified by name but spoke freely about the situation, also revealed that there is currently a “war” going on, which he said was responsible for “a lot of people get killed recently”. He did not go into details.
However, another resident suggested that Wednesday night’s gunplay was not as a result of any violent disturbance or confrontation, but that it was really a “celebration” of news of the release of convicted killers Richard Haynes and Vincent Edwards, whose death sentences were overturned by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice on Tuesday.
The men, who have been linked to the area, were set free after the CCJ, which is Barbados’ highest court, ruled that the Director of Public Prosecutions could not uphold Edwards and Haynes’ convictions due to the presentation of insufficient evidence against them.
“They [Edwards and Haynes] got freed, so they [gun-toting residents] had a celebration for them, so probably that is what it was all about,” reported another resident, who told Barbados TODAY he thought he heard at least “a hundred shots last night”.
“They had a huge party up there [in the area of the Red Sea] and get and do bare foolishness. Them shoot up in the air and the shots hit the power lines . . . . Man we feel it’s cause the two men that come out yesterday,” an angry female resident said, while an equally shaken male, who also did not want to be identified by name, said that “from the amount of bullets, I thought it was a shoot out with the police”.
However, that theory was immediately dispelled by another man, who said, in the absence of police sirens, “I personally didn’t figure that nothing big happen”.
As a WhatsApp voice note of the ugly incident made the rounds on social media, all that police would say in a statement issued this afternoon by Public Relations Officer Acting Inspector Roland Cobbler is that they were conducting investigations into the reported gunfire.
When pressed for further comment, Cobbler assured the public that police were working diligently to rºid the streets of Barbados of firearms.
“There are still too many gun related crimes being committed. We are renewing our plea for persons to come forward and assist us,” he said, after Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith last week revealed that firearms were used in 15 of the 19 murders committed so far this year, representing nearly 80 per cent of all unlawful killings.
This compared to 16 of 22 for all of last year, or 72 per cent of murders.