When gunshots erupted just around noon today outside the home of Rafik Patel in Pickwick Gap, St Michael, his thoughts immediately turned to his granddaughter with whom he often plays near where the shooting was taking place.
“This shooting so close to my home isn’t a good thing at all. Usually I play with my grandchild out here and she could have easily been hurt, but luckily she wasn’t here at the time of the shooting,” an upset Patel told Barbados TODAY.
Up until the time of publication police had little details on the shootout, believed to have been between two men, and there were no reports of injuries.
However, it was a troubling scene for Patel, who has lived in the area for just shy of 60 years, and who recalls the days of peace and quiet.
“I was living here from the time I was ten years old in 1960 and the only thing we used to have down here is excitement at cricket when it played at Kensington,” he said with a tinge of nostalgia.
But things have changed, and his once peaceful community is now like the “wild, wild west”, with the regular sound of gunshots becoming a normal part of life.
“We hear gunshots here regularly. It is like the wild, wild, west. It is ridiculous,” Patel said. “Young boys have too many guns. They don’t want to solve disputes peacefully. It is very sad,” he added.
While the brazen display of bravado by the gun carrying lawbreakers drives fear in the hearts of residents, seldom are they fatal, Patel told Barbados TODAY.
However, he said there was a killing two years ago, which shook the community to the core and shattered what was left of their peaceful lives.
And even as the community has come to expect gunfire on any given day, Patel was hopeful that those involved in the shootings would finally “get back to good morals” and change their ways.
“This used to be a peaceful area, but not now. You don’t need to watch a western movie, all you have to do is come here. I don’t know what is happening with the youth of the island. I am also concerned about the future,” he stressed.
“They need to respect one another and be humble. We need to learn to say we are sorry and move on. If I step on a man’s toe he wants to stab me. Before, in the old days, if you do that you apologize and it won’t be no problem. Morality is going down and all this immorality is leading to gun violence.
“There is something wrong mentally, whether it is the parents fault in the upbringing of the children or they are watching too much violence on social media or television, I don’t know.”
The Pickwick Gap shooting was the second today, following an incident along Silver Hill Drive, Christ Church around 7:15 this morning, which left 53-year-old Hugh Harewood of Wotton Plantation nursing a gunshot wound to his groin.
Harewood, who was involved in an altercation with another man, was transported to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital by ambulance. The assailant fled the scene on foot.
An upsurge in gun violence saw
the island recording two killings last week, bringing the murder count for the year so far to 17, according to police statistics.
Thirty-eight-year-old Pauline Clarke was shot multiple times and killed around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday while exiting a gym at Civilian Road, Bush Hall.
Meanwhile, 26-year-old Donasan Husbands was gunned down in the car park east of the Flour Mill off Spring Garden Highway, St Michael on Friday after disembarking the MV Dream Chaser after attending a cruise.
Today’s gun violence came mere hours after Prime Minister Mia Mottley appealed for an end to gun violence.
“It has to stop,” she told interviewer David Ellis last night in a 90-minute exchange, broadcast nationally and online.
Expressing concern that youth as young as 14 and up to 22 were often involved in worrying activity, the Prime Minister said it was important that the authorities engage those likely to get into trouble, and create programmes that would help to keep them occupied.
“We have just had some gun incidents last week, two of them. This afternoon I was sent a video from a fete that took place that had some people running lawlessly. This has to stop,” she said.
“In order for us to do that [stop gun violence], we have to put in the time and go and engage. This is not a case of being able to use the heavy arm of the law on people.
“This is a case of sitting down and talking with people and putting structures in place. The Ministry of Youth has to put back in place substantive programmes for young people . . . . Unless you have young people in structured activity, the devil is going to find work for idle hands,” she contended.