Dozens were denied a safe space to work, shop and dine during the lunchtime hours today as terror encroached on the popular shopping mall at Sheraton Centre when a gunman stormed the complex and opened fire taking the life of a 33-year-old man.
Civilians were left stunned and operations at the Sergeant’s Village complex came to an unscheduled halt as police began investigating Barbados’ 20th murder for 2019.
Word of the shocking incident quickly spread and shortly after a chorus of weeping was heard as family members of the deceased Damien Trotman huddled in disbelief.
A team of media personnel was in the mall conducting an interview with members of the disabled community, when the gunman stormed the plaza and started firing meters away.
According to reports, it happened just outside of the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), inside the food court.
“The man passed over me with the gun and I was thinking ‘suppose he shoots me right now, because he looked directly at me when I was on the ground and I actually saw his face, so he could have killed me. I could have been dead all now,” said one of the shaken media workers.
One journalist said: “When he [the victim] slumped down, he still had the receipt in his hand and I just saw his hand loosen and I said, ‘oh my goodness, he’s been shot.’ So all I could do was just dive into the place that was next to me and check myself to make sure that I wasn’t shot.”
Owner of a well-known restaurant, Foreplay Deli, Phillip Forester told Barbados TODAY that dozens of civilians attempted to cram into the back of his establishment, desperately attempting to escape the danger.
“About five or six customers encroached on my restaurant and all of a sudden they were in the kitchen lying down in refuge and that was very serious.
“I thought it was an explosion coming from another restaurant, because a person being shot in Sheraton Mall, is something that I never would have imagined.
He also expressed concern about the dangerous precedent set by a shooting of that nature.
“There are kids who came here as babies and continue coming to this mall for food, to shop and the question is are they going to be safe coming here in the near future?”
“I am concerned that we are not safe in Barbados anymore and you don’t have to do anything to anyone to be in harm’s way. So I am wondering whether Barbados is still the gem of the Caribbean in that regard,” he pondered.
An announcement by acting police Public Relations Officer Inspector Rodney Inniss that two people, a male and female were taken into custody following the incident was not enough to quell the sorrow of family members mourning the loss of their Damien who lived at Highland, near Foursquare in St. Philip.
Fiona Pilgrim, cousin of the slain man was among scores of family members who converged at the scene. However, she was the only one in a position to speak to the press.
Pilgrim described her cousin as a “really nice man” who loved his family, particularly his two sisters and his young son, a student at the Lodge School.
“He had his ways, but I find his name would be called in many things that he didn’t know anything about. People just used to call his name. I don’t know if it’s because of his style of living, but I guess that is how it happens in society.
“But to be honest, he was really nice and he loved his son. His son recently passed for Lodge and I don’t even know how he is going to take this, because he was always there for his son, even though his father was not there for him.”
She also revealed that the victim’s mother was former Barbadian Olympic sprinter, Marcia Trotman.
“Before his mum died, his mum told me to make sure I took care of him,” she said, while shaking her head in disbelief.
Others still on the scene reflected on the country’s unprecedented violent situation.
“Gun violence is really getting out of control in Barbados. I know we have different theories about it . . . but there were literally hundreds of children in Sheraton.
“So we have to study the residual effects because it’s okay to blame it all on a turf war or gangs, but look at how many people are going to be affected . . . . You don’t know who will be replaying that in their minds tonight,” said a traumatized eyewitness.
Since the shocking incident, management of the popular mall has been unavailable for comment. firstname.lastname@example.org