With the violent deaths of four senior citizens in less than a week, the head of the Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP), Ed Bushell, is calling on fellow pensioners to be vigilant.
Bushell said he was flabbergasted at the four separate incidents in which two men were slain, one appeared to have died by his own hand and the fourth died in a road accident.
Last Thursday, police discovered the body of 68-year-old Tyrone Austin of Free Hill, St Michael, in a bushy area at Paradise Heights, with serious injuries to his head. The next day, Roy Liverpool, also 68, was founding hanging from a tree in a gully behind his Campaign Castle home. Then came the brazen Friday evening shooting death of 83-year-old Oscar Hamblin on the crowded Marhill Street, in Bridgetown. Early the following morning, Frederick Jules of Sandford, St Philip, became the country’s latest road death, the victim of an apparent hit-and-run incident.
“We regret these tragedies that are occurring in Barbados especially during this season . . . . I am flabbergasted by this and I feel sometimes frustrated and wonder what we should be doing to lessen this violence at this time,” Bushell declared.
“We are very concerned about this at BARP as it is something that affects the elderly, many of whom are caught in crossfire and stuff like that. We are hoping that the authorities can do something meaningful to curb this spate of violence that we are experiencing at this time.”
But he suggested that given the nature of the most recent events, the authorities had their work cut out for them.
“In some cases where there’s this random shooting, there’s not much that you can do to prepare for it, because you may be out very innocently to go to the shop or the supermarket and some people decide for their own reasons to start firing at each other and you get caught, so there’s not a lot that you could do,” he said.
“I personally don’t know what else they [authorities] can do. They are the experts; they have to know what they have to do, but whatever it is they do, I hope they can do it quickly.”
Bushell said BARP would continue to place the country’s retired population in a position to minimize the possibility of falling victim to crime.
“We at BARP have been running a number of safety tips on our radio programme and we have partnered with the Royal Barbados Police Force to assist our members and elderly people at their homes by coming and doing home inspections on how best to secure their homes. But the main thing is vigilance and looking around and being aware of your surroundings,” he warned.
Following the spate of violent incidents, the president of the Democratic Labor Party, Verla Depeiza, accused Government of being preoccupied with the economy, while failing to arrest social issues like gun violence.
Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson assured Barbadians that Government would get to the bottom of the country’s crime spike, and along with Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde pleaded with citizens to put down their guns.