Fernander urges vigilance after mass shooting
A day after Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson sought to allay the fears of Bahamians in the wake of a mass shooting in Montell Heights that left 17 people injured, Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) President Bishop Delton Fernander said yesterday that Bahamians should exercise caution as they move around.
Fernander said warring gangs on New Providence appear to be using military grade weapons and have no regard for the “casualties of war”.
“This is where community policing is going to come in place and citizens getting involved in policing their area. Unfortunately, over the weekend the 911 [number] was not engaged, not working, but we have to be extra vigilant now,” Fernander said.
“We cannot move about our society without an open and vigilant eye. I know there are some who are saying that we shouldn’t worry, and I don’t think this is worry, this is caution.
“We have real military-style weapons being used in a battle between warring factions and they are not concerned about the casualties of this war.
“At some point as a society, we must look at ourselves and say for the least amongst us, we are to protect them. There is no way a 10-year-old should be taking two bullets for a birthday celebration. That’s just sending a message that our society is going in the wrong direction.”
On Sunday, in response to the shooting, Ferguson said the incident was isolated, and assured residents they should not be fearful.
Police said 14 people between the ages of 10 and 32 were shot shortly after midnight in Montell Heights.
Police said a man was walking toward a birthday party in the area when two gunmen approached him and fired several shots in his direction, resulting in multiple people being shot.
Police said another three victims sustained injuries during the panic.
Fernander said the Christian Council is working on several initiatives to help combat violent crime in the country.
“We have said, as the Christian Council, we’re not going to sit back and just talk about this anymore,” he said.
“We’re going to get involved, and I think that’s where it begins.”
He added, “We have some entities that are going to be models that we are studying with Dr. David Allen. I don’t want to give too much information, because some of it is very secretive and some of it is for society to see.”
Fernander also called on the police to take a more aggressive approach in combatting the movement of illegal weapons across New Providence.
“I think we’re going to have to give room to the commissioner to do more invasive things,” he said.
“These weapons are traveling in vehicles, and it’s not isolated to late [at] night. It’s happening in the afternoon.”
He said there needs to be more road checks.
“It has to be massive, almost island-wide.”
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish