The visible signs of the March 21 murder of Damien Trotman are long gone. The wall with the two large bullet holes has been repaired, the blood-stained tiles have been thoroughly cleaned but the shock of the daylight killing at Sheraton Mall remains etched in the memories of the members of the National United Society of the Blind.
On that tragic Thursday, the non-governmental organisation was hosting A Day of Discovery, where members would test their mobility skills and also sensitize the public about how visually-impaired persons conducted day-to-day business. But chaos erupted when a lone gunman who was standing next to the group opened fire and the organisation’s social activity came to an abrupt halt.
Led by their president Kerry-Ann Ifill, the former President of the Senate, the group returned to the scene to complete what they started. The group traversed throughout the Sergeant Village, Christ Church shopping centre for a treasure hunt, visiting various stores. During the mobility and independent living exercise, the participants received help from assistive technology as well.
Speaking to the media, Ifill revealed that before participating in the exercise the members received counselling from the National Disabilities Unit and also the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs. She disclosed that it has been “challenging” because some individuals were alarmed by loud noises and being in crowded venues. Ifill also explained that having narrowly escaped death, the members of the society sought to move on from the incident.
“Our return to Sheraton Mall today is because we know that life has to go on and anything can happen at any time so we are doing what we have to do . . . . We experienced something that nobody should have to experience but to be back here knowing that we survived that and knowing that we are capable of doing this is an excellent feeling so we feel triumphant,” she said.
Granville Carter was standing a foot away from the shooter when the incident occurred. He said that although he has heard gunshots before, he was shaken by the close proximity of the incident.
“Even though the experience has impacted my life greatly, you still can’t sit back and say that ‘Don’t go back because something else may happen’ because something can happen anywhere. I must get on with my life and do the things that I have to do so that is the real reason I am back here today and I do not feel timid,” Carter said.
Vice president of the Society, Rudyard Welch noted he was concerned about the lawlessness and disregard for human life. The reality of what unfolded sunk in when he returned home on Thursday. Although he was unable to see what occurred, what he heard was alarming.
“It brought me to the realisation that we are vulnerable in any part of Barbados, it doesn’t matter where you go anything can happen.
My only concern is that we need to get rid of this lawlessness and it shows how people do not care about people’s lives. It is reckless and endangering people and we need to do something about it.”
Welch also revealed that he has spoken to the management of Sheraton Mall on measures to make the mall more accessible for the blind and visually-impaired.