NASSAU – The respected aide-de-camp to governor general Dame Marguerite Pindling was shot in front of his daughter during a school pickup yesterday afternoon and later died in the Princess Margaret Hospital from his injuries.
Inspector Carlis Blatch was immediately remembered for his professionalism and decency, with the office of the governor general noting he was someone who served with distinction.
Former governor general Sir Arthur Foulkes called him “a gentleman to the fingertips” in an interview with The Tribune last night.
Police suspect that Blatch was shot during an armed robbery attempt.
Last night, as The Tribune went to press, police issued a sketch of a suspect being sought in relation to the shooting.
The suspect is described as having a dark brown complexion, a medium build and standing at about 5ft 11in or 6ft.
Officers combed the streets throughout the night in an island-wide manhunt for his killer even as grieving family and colleagues slowly trickled out of the Princess Margaret Hospital after absorbing the news.
He was a fixture at the side of Dame Marguerite and worked very closely with her on official matters. Blatch served several governors general during his career, becoming aide-de-camp under Dame Marguerite.
According to assistant commissioner of police Clayton Fernander, shortly after 3 p.m. the officer was sitting in his vehicle with his daughter waiting for his son, who attends HO Nash Junior High School, when a gunman approached him and pointed a gun in his direction.
The man ordered him to get out of the car, then shot him.
The gunman pulled him out of the car, got into the vehicle and drove off. He eventually abandoned the vehicle in a corner off Farrington Road.
Before the suspect drove off, Inspector Blatch’s daughter got out of the car and ran for help, according to police.
Noting the area was crowded with parents picking up their children, Fernander said: “We believe some persons may have seen exactly what happened and if they saw, we’re asking them to please come forward and assist in identifying this individual. He don’t need to be out a next hour. We are on a manhunt at this time. Everybody is out trying to find this individual and we will.”
Fernander said police are looking for a dark man who “appeared to be very young, slim built” and between five feet and 5’6.
“It appeared to be an attempted armed robbery,” he said, “a crime of opportunity.
“As I always say the criminals are getting bolder and bolder every day. That is very bold.”
Fernander called on the suspect to turn himself in.
“Go to a pastor, go to some family members, turn yourself in with your weapon or we will find you,” he said.
Fernander said Blatch was on duty at the time of the incident, but had “slipped out” to pick his children up from school.
This is the first time this year a police officer has been shot and killed. It marks the 69th murder of the year, according to The Tribune’s records.
Expressing distress at the killing, Sir Arthur told The Tribune he knew Inspector Blatch “very well and had the highest regard for him.”
“He was a decent human being,” he said. “He was a gentleman to the finger tips and he was admirably suited for the job he was in. I worked with him for several years and it is a great tragedy and I’m very disturbed about this. He was there for the entire time I was there, the four years. He was perfect for the job for that particular field, protocol and diplomatic protection. He was always in place and he always did the right thing at the right time. He had the right personality for it.”
A statement from the office of the governor general noted Blatch has been stationed at government house for the past 14 years, serving with distinction as the officer in charge of protocol, then as aide-de-camp (ADC) to the governor general.
“His service at government house was marked by his expert understanding of the procedures which attend the affairs at government house, and as ADC to the governor general. He always took great care to pass on his expertise to other staff, among whom he was highly regarded. His interactions with the public also made him respected and admired,” the statement noted.
Official opposition leader Philip Brave Davis also spoke out about the killing, saying he and his colleagues are “simply devastated” by the officer’s death.
“We ask ourselves how much sorrow and needless death are we to bear,” he said. “One of our nation’s finest has been taken from us. A man who had come into his own and with the promise of a great future in front of him snuffed out for no good reason. The meanest of the act of murder in front of his child shows how low we have sunk.”
Obi Pindling, son of Dame Marguerite, called the killing “incredibly sad and senseless” in a Facebook post.
“This is so hard to come to grips with,” he wrote. “To say he ‘served the GG well’ is such a gross understatement. He treated her as if she were his own mother. He was truly a gem of an individual and will be terribly missed. May his soul rest in eternal peace and we pray that the good Lord will strengthen his family at this extremely difficult time.”
A friend of Blatch told The Tribune last night: “He was a great guy, really pleasant and a true family man. In his work, he was a true professional. It’s a terrible shock for everybody.”
Blatch served as an aide-de-camp for the past four years.
In view of his murder, government house postponed the ceremonies of the award of honours scheduled for today. A new date will be set for these ceremonies shortly, and an official announcement will be made accordingly.
The ministry of national security last night confirmed that an island-wide manhunt was underway for the gunman.
Ministry officials said: “We are appealing to the public to come forward with any information they may have, no matter how small it may be, to help us in solving this horrific murder.
“These kinds of senseless killings remind us that we still have far to go in the fight against violent crime, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of inspector Blatch, who are left to try to understand this tragic incident.
“The ministry once again appeals to residents to call a police station with any information they might have or to contact Crimestoppers on 328-TIPS.”
Stephen Greenslade, the deputy chairperson of the Democratic National Alliance, said last night: “I join with the Bahamian people in expressing my deep regret and sympathies upon learning of the shooting incident that took place on our streets here in the capital, and the subsequent passing of aide-de-camp inspector Carlis Blatch, who succumbed to injuries sustained during the said incident.
“On behalf of the Democratic National Alliance, our leaders, officers and members, I wish to extend sincere condolences to Inspector Blatch’s family and the Royal Bahamas Police Force family.
“Further condolences are extended to our governor general, the staff at government house where he last served and all his comrades. May his soul rest in peace.”