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Families of murder victims receive grief counseling

Family members of at least ten of the country’s murder victims received grief counseling over the weekend, as a result of a joint initiative between the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF), religious leaders and Urban Renewal.

On Saturday, the Grove Police Station held a seminar at St. Barnabas Church’s Parish Hall, for families dealing with grief as a result of a tragic loss.

According to Head of the Grove Police Station, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Samuel Butler, a number of the country’s 110 murders this year occurred in the Grove policing zone.

The victims are Jason Brown, Francisco Hanna, Oswald Hall, Harry Knowles, Allisant Olitime, Clayton Rolle-Smith, Jameko Jones, Francueir Etienne, Luigi Lockhart, Renaldo Apolean, Dereck Johnson, Tekoyo McKinney, Ernest Lacroix, Deslin Nicholas, Leontis Louis, Rocklyn Williams and Bradley Whitaker.

Butler told The Nassau Guardian that these victims’ families, particularly their children are still struggling to cope.

“We wanted to do something more than just reaching out on the crime scene or perhaps following up at a funeral.  When we go back to visit these families, sometimes months later, we find that many of them are still grieving,” said Butler.

“This seminar is about reaching out to the community and getting them back on track.  Many of these victims have left children.  We recognize that we cannot just allow the children to get lost in the system.  We want to make sure that they are included in some of our programs.”

Butler said it’s important that initiatives like this be carried out across The Bahamas.

“We think it is necessary to take this throughout the islands.  I don’t want to see an angry community… I want to see a peaceful community and we will not have a peaceful community if people are still angry within.”

Rector of St. Barnabas Church, Canon Basil Tynes agreed.  He guided the families through the process of grief.  Many family members broke down during the inner healing session, when they were asked to think about the most painful part of their loss.

“We want to make sure that people are able to understand what it is that they are going through.  We want them also to be able to move on from where they are.  They cannot remain angry and bitter,” said Tynes.

“Anger can be expressed toward so many people, toward the person who died, the police, the church or even God.  So we are trying our best to begin the process of healing so that they can move forward.”

Tynes said many retaliation killings occur because people do not deal with their grief.

“They have to strike back.  Anger and bitterness only complicates the problem that we are facing in our communities,” he said.

The families of the murder victims also got their chance to share how the murders affected them.

Mother of Francisco Hanna, Denise Sands, said the seminar gave her a little relief.

I am still struggling to cope with my son’s death.  Today [Saturday] marks 16 weeks since he’s been gone and every time I think about the situation it hurts.  It is still hard for me to cope and I cannot sleep at night.  It hurts even more to know that the person who killed my son is still out there,” said Sands.

Another man who did not want to be identified pleaded for the police to find his son’s killer.

He said, “How can you expect us to have closure when the person is still out there?”

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