The Bahamas is by no means the only country in this region that has ongoing issues with crime and violence.
Just yesterday, as we were learning of the circumstances of the death of a pump attendant at a Rubis gas station on Mackey Street, we learned that the shooting death of 39-year-old Bahamian Tessio Hanna in Ontario, Canada, less than two weeks ago, has been deemed a homicide.
Crime happens everywhere. Murders can happen anywhere. We acknowledge that.
However, this cannot be a reasonable justification for what is occurring on New Providence.
We say New Providence because gang killings are a phenomenon we have seen in recent decades throughout the capital.
Mercifully, this trend has not yet spread in any appreciable way to other islands in our Commonwealth, though murders certainly do occasionally occur on other islands.
With regard to the pump attendant who was killed shortly after 11 a.m. yesterday, police said he was a prison inmate who was on work release.
According to police, the man was approached by a lone gunman who shot him multiple times.
The alleged gunman left on foot, reportedly traveling east along Pyfrom Road with numerous videos circulating of a man clutching a gun to his chest as he walked through traffic.
The identity of the murder victim was not revealed by police yesterday, but The Nassau Guardian understands that the man was convicted of manslaughter several years ago.
The crime that the murder victim was reportedly convicted of was particularly heinous and said to also be connected to gang activity on New Providence more than a decade ago.
Yesterday’s killing raised questions about the prison work release program itself, with many asking who qualifies for work release and how secure the inmates actually are out in public.
We understand that many inmates who qualify for work release are employed at service stations due to the proliferation of cameras at the establishments that make it relatively easy to monitor the inmates and those who they interact with.
The brazen nature of the crime, committed on a main thoroughfare that has consistently heavy traffic during daylight hours, and the relative calm of the alleged assailant as he made his escape should signal to some the shifting attitude of those who wish to act as executioner.
Acting Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander yesterday said the country experienced a decline in murders in April, compared to one of the bloodiest months on record in March.
That is welcome news, as is his assertion that this decline was the result of the police force’s effort to tackle the situation.
However, with more than 50 murders recorded in the first four months of the year, we could see another record year of homicides if that pace continues.
Fernander added yesterday that police recovered 13 weapons and assorted ammunition in the last week and 14 individuals were in custody for possession of unlicensed firearms.
He said five people who were recently taken into custody are believed to be responsible for some murders and attempted murders.
Those people were found mainly in the trunk of a car reportedly being driven by a young woman after a police chase following reports of prowlers with high-powered weapons and pistols ended with another vehicle crashing and the suspects initially getting away.
Fernander held up one of the handguns he said was confiscated, emphasizing how it had been altered with an extension and drum magazine to make it automatic and much more lethal.
Lest anyone harbor any illusions with what faces our nation, and our police force, in particular, this should serve as a reality check.
Here in New Providence, gang members exist in significant numbers who ride around armed to the teeth with weapons of war without regard for the peaceful, productive lives that most of us seek to live.
We applaud the efforts of police.
The crime fight is not about politics or who is to blame for the actions of young men and women who choose to engage in lives of disorder and violence.
It is about maintaining a peaceful way of life for the law-abiding citizens of this country.
The government has promised to review legislation to hopefully address the gang scourge in New Providence.
While that is hoped to alleviate some of the bloodshed, we would also hope that we focus on better parenting, making more young people aware of the consequences of their choices and providing feasible options for those who do not choose to willingly participate in the anarchy destroying so many.