The Royal Barbados Police Force really has a fight on its hands.
Yesterday’s brazen daytime shooting inside the Sheraton Centre mall, in which a young man was slain execution-style, ventured into dark, uncharted territory.
While the police grapple with bringing gun-related crime under control, the murder at one of the island’s most popular malls has left the country in shock.
Barbadians were still trying to come to grips with Sunday night’s double murder, in which masked men took the lives of a 53-year-old woman and her 32-year-old son when news broke of the latest outrage.
It is hard to believe that at one of the mall’s busiest times, as dozens of shoppers sat to eat in the food court, an individual could so unconscionably open fire.
To make matters worse, some members of the disabled community were mere feet away from the shooting, conducting an interview with the media.
The intended target was hit in this heinous attack, but it could very easily have been much worse.
There are no fewer than four shops on either side of the spot where 33-year-old Damien Trotman was gunned down.
Imagine if one of those bullets had missed? Or worse yet, if Trotman had seen the gunman approaching and had made a dash through the food court in his bid to escape; what then?
It could so easily have been the final stop for innocent patrons who had ventured to the busiest mall in search of food, or to shop.
Have we now reached the point that nowhere can be considered safe?
Of the 20 murders committed so far for the year, the victims have been killed while sitting in their homes, while liming at a bar, driving their vehicles and now in a packed mall.
The increased gun violence has driven fear into Barbadians, who now have to constantly look over their shoulders, whether they are in the comfort of their own homes, or out shopping.
This latest incident also brings into question, the frame of mind of our young people.
What would make a young man feel comfortable enough to walk into a mall at midday, pump three bullets into his target, and then run out brandishing the weapon for all to see?
Did he not care about the large crowd present in the mall? Is he not aware that Sheraton Centre is completely covered with closed-circuit cameras? Did he not believe that someone would recognise him? And did he not take into consideration that someone would see him as he made his escape?
Coincidentally, his picture, albeit a blurred face, appeared on the next day’s front page, making it that much easier for police to identify the culprit.
Things have reached the point where not even the words of Attorney General Dale Marshall and Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith are providing any comfort.
Griffith said in an interview with the media moments after the island’s latest murder.: “We have a plan and we are sticking to our plan. We know that we will get the results that we want.
“Many of these shooting incidents are reprisals and based on that it is kind of difficult because the co-operation is not really there from individuals who from time to time are being attacked.
“However, we will make sure that we do all in our power to wrestle this ugly situation to the ground. We intend to find these perpetrators and bring them before the court in a short space of time “
Those are words which Barbadians have become accustomed to since the start of the year.
The time has come for action. Barbadians are waiting for law enforcement officials to take a hard stance and for hard-nosed decisions to be made to stem the flow of what seems to be daily murders and shootings.