Employees in the food court of Sheraton Mall are still recovering from Thursday’s bloody and brutal attack, which claimed the life of Damien Trotman and sent dozens of civilians scampering for their safety.
Twenty-four hours later, mall workers were seen continuously sterilizing the area where the 33-year-old victim’s bloody corpse once rested. The traumatic event however could not be easily wiped from the memories of eyewitnesses who said the three loud explosions were still ringing in their ears.
Two large bullet holes carved into the wall provided a ghastly reminder of the event.
Workers reported a notable reduction in foot traffic as regular patrons seemingly stayed away. In a popular restaurant footsteps away from the incident, the ordeal was still fresh on the lips of employees and business was exceptionally slow.
“I really didn’t like the atmosphere, because it is one thing to be scared, but to realize that it was so close and you’re in this confined environment with all of these people . . . it could have been anybody. A stray shot could have struck somebody, because the shooter had absolutely no regard for anybody,” said one restaurant supervisor.
“I was in the food court with my two co-workers and I heard the first explosion so we got up and ran straight into the Chinese [restaurant],” said another eyewitness.
“When we came back from hiding, everybody was scattered all over the place. I honestly thought it was a terrorist attack and we saw all of the blind people huddled together on the ground, so we thought they could’ve been shot as well.”
Other mall employees said the incident has left them contemplating their personal safety while at work.
“I will be honest with you. I feel very skeptical, especially at night on Fridays and Saturday when the mall is packed with people, there are all sorts of undesirables walking around and it makes you feel very uneasy. I don’t know if increased security would make a difference, because yesterday, the security was hiding.
“Although there are cameras around, I think some metal detectors are needed at the entrances,” she added.
In a press release, management of Sheraton Mall expressed deep sadness by the tragedy and sought to reassure the public that the area was still safe.
“We wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to all those patrons, storeowners, staff, and community members affected by these unnecessary acts of violence,” it read.
“We are also relieved to know that the suspect has been taken into custody by the Royal Barbados Police Force. This brazen act has no place in a destination where families and law abiding citizens congregate to eat, shop, and enjoy each other’s company.”
Potential patrons however were seemingly still filled with skepticism as restaurants recorded one of their slowest lunchtimes in recent memory.
“It’s almost lunchtime today and there’s just a fraction of people here now compared to what it usually is,” said the owner of Foreplay Deli, Phillip Forrester, who predicted the negative impact just the day before.
“Instantaneously there’s the imminent impact that this will have knowing how cautious Barbadians are right now about crime, but I am optimistic right now that it may subside shortly so we can get back to paying our bills and making money.
“There’s never an issue with security at the mall, but obviously people who come into the mall aren’t vetted. We don’t know who they are, their purpose or their reasons as was demonstrated yesterday. So the question is how do you control when someone comes into the mall with the intention of killing people,” he added. [email protected]