Fellow citizens and residents,
You would no doubt have awoken this morning to the tragic news of a double homicide in our Federation.
Our Police High Command has advised that, at around 9:00p.m. last evening, a group of persons were gathered at Upper Thibou Avenue when two armed, masked men came through an alley and opened fire on the group.
Five persons were injured and, sadly, two succumbed to their injuries. Dead are: Cleon Gilbert of Cayon and Kyle Allen of Central Thibou Avenue. Injured are: Vance Nisbett of McKnight, Kevis Cotton of Upper College Street and Omax Bye of Forth Thomas Road.
A number of spent cartridges were recovered from the scene and our police are leading an active and urgent investigation.
I wish, on behalf of the Honourable Prime Minister and the Government, to express deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of these two young men senselessly killed last evening.
I also express the hope of the Nation that those injured are able to make a full recovery. Parents should never have to bury their children. Our young Nation should never have to bury our young sons in this way. We are far, far better as a people – and as a Nation – than what these criminal elements portray us to be.
Our country continues to be bedevilled by this two-decade-old phenomenon of violent crime and, more specifically, gun crime. It is a major societal problem, which we as a Government are grappling with.
The vast majority of our people are law-abiding and decent citizens, and we should not – and cannot – allow a small minority to terrorize the majority.
The people of The Village and of McKnight, and of every village and community across St. Kitts and Nevis, deserve to live and work in a safe environment. Our duty as a Government is to provide that safe environment.
Our Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, who is currently abroad on official business, has been in close contact late last evening and this morning with the Police High Command and has been fully briefed and engaged with this situation.
This Government is fully committed to the safety and security of our citizenry. We have invested significant resources to date and will continue to invest heavily to arrest this scourge.
But crime is a societal problem, and all the spending and policing in the world will not eradicate it from our midst unless we have a change in hearts and minds, and unless our people in our homes and our schools and our churches and our communities decide to stand together in solemn solidarity to arrest this problem.
Whilst the statistics suggest that, overall, violent crime is down throughout the Federation, I know that cold statistics provide little comfort to those families left to mourn, or to the communities left traumatized by these senseless acts of brutality.
And so today, this Government, again, gives its solemn commitment to confront crime and criminality in all its forms, wherever and whenever it rears its head.
The Police High Command and the rest of our security forces are on high alert and will, over the ensuing weeks and months, step up their intelligence gathering and interdiction activities.
We – Government and Citizenry alike – deserve a safe St. Kitts and Nevis, and your Government will not slumber nor sleep in its ongoing efforts at restoring our Nation to a land where peace abounds.
In this journey, we call on our citizens and residents to hold hands with the Government and the security forces.
I call on the Opposition. I call on the Church. I call on the NGOs and Civil Society. Let us together send a single, clear message that criminals and criminality have no place in our society and that violence in any form is unacceptable in our small Nation.
Our security forces and the High Command of the Police have been directed to engage fully and robustly with all communities throughout our land to arrest this problem.
Those few among us who are intent on criminality will find no solace in St. Kitts and Nevis.
The majority of our law-abiding and peace-loving people will not be prevented from leading productive lives by the miscreant few.
Your Government stands committed to the task at hand, and we ask that you join us in this noble cause.
May our God of love and light comfort those who mourn, and may He – who surpasses all understanding – be with each and every one of us, as we recommit and rededicate ourselves collectively to ensuring an end to violent crime in our midst.