On March 21, 2019, when a daring fatal shooting at Sheraton Mall stunned shoppers going about their business in the middle of the day, we were justifiably outraged.
Now, almost ten months later, on January 16, 2020, there are almost no words to describe the senseless, reckless, lawless violation of the sanctity of education – the taking of the life of a parent outside a primary school, where innocent boys and girls, teachers and other parents were getting ready for a regular day of learning.
It is nothing short of utter madness that our children should be subjected to hearing gunshots and forced to scamper to safety at the start of the school day.
That criminals are now so brazen and mindless that they would recklessly endanger and callously traumatise young lives is unforgivable.
Over the last year, we cringed as Barbados was marred by a record 49 murders.
When is enough, enough? How many more lives must be lost to violence?
The crime scourge has besieged our lives over the last 12 months and we abhor any notion that this will continue in 2020.
Over the last year, Government and police have been devising strategies; laws have been revised to make life more difficult for offenders; we had a gun amnesty; programmes have been rolled out across blocks to give young people a start on life away from crime; we have prayed as island, pleaded as mothers, fathers and communities. But the problem lingers and criminal minds seem even more brazen.
We know there is no magic bullet to the problem and there is no one cause to this vexing issue — be it a toxic mix of poor conflict resolution, deteriorating morals, broken homes, the negative impact of imported culture, and disrespect for human life, or just plain evil that leads to this senseless.
But today signalled that we can’t afford to throw our hands in the air or worse, become numb.
Said Attorney General Dale Marshall: “Today’s homicide more than perhaps any other demonstrates the absolute callousness of the criminal element in Barbados.
“To carry out any execution is wrong but in the precincts of a primary school, which is supposed to be a place of safety for our young and fragile minds is an act of sheer evil.”
And to criminals, he declared: “We will not allow you to destroy our society.
“The handful of you will not be allowed to wreak havoc unchecked in Barbados.
“We are intent on bringing Barbados to a state of relative peace and we will do what we must.
“No lawful action will be considered to be out of the reach of the Royal Barbados Police Force and I am charging them with bringing these lawless people to swift justice.
“Barbados must become a very uncomfortable place for these villains.”
We are gratified by the news that the tireless officers of the Royal Barbados Police Force are to receive additional resources to help stamp out this lawlessness.
We are even more heartened by the revelation that the National Security Council was expected to meet this evening to further strategise.
We have to be very smart in the way we fight criminals. It will take more intelligence to apprehend criminals.
But more is needed.
All hands must be on deck to wrestle this problem to the ground. Those who draft legislation have a duty to ensure that the relevant laws are in place and up to date to properly prosecute offenders; our police have a duty to bring the offenders before the court; and the prosecutors must work hard to secure convictions, to deter others from following suit.
Added to that, we the public must not be afraid to speak and report crimes.
We are all St Alban’s people today.
For if not, we cannot predict who, when or where the menace of gun-toting bandits will imperil the lives of students and staff.