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Gunmen attack hotel owner, ‘gun butt’ teenaged son

Gunmen attack hotel owner, ‘gun butt’ teenaged son

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Homeowners and persons operating businesses in the upscale area of Villa are calling for heightened security, after the proprietor of a popular hotel in the area and her teenage son were held at gunpoint and beaten in their home on Sunday.

During the attempted robbery, three masked men entered the home of Kim Halbich, proprietor of Paradise Beach Hotel, at around 8:40 p.m. on Sunday. The men were all armed with firearms and according to Halbich, they attempted to restrain her with duct tape.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT yesterday, Halbich, who also runs Fantasea Tours, said that the masked men, whom she said were all dark-skinned, hit her son, a national athlete, with the butts of their guns.{{more}}

“When they started hitting my son, I started screaming. They said, ‘Don’t scream, I would shoot you,’ but at that point, I didn’t care, because they were hitting my son,” she said.

Halbich, who lives on a beachfront property, said that the men entered through the open front door of her home, and once they were inside, they entered her room and tried to restrain her, while striking her son and repeatedly asking the 16-year-old student for money.

Understandibly still rattled by the incident, Halbich said that the men left when she began screaming.

“It changes your whole life; it changes how you look at everything and everyone in terms of the security in your home…,” Halbich said, expressing how she felt about the incident.

She, however, noted that she was relieved that the incident had happened to her and not to one of her guests.

The hotelier said she believes that the attackers knew that her husband was out of the country.

Halbich, who is also the president of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Hotel and Tourism Association, said that although this was the first time armed assailants had entered her home, there is usually a lot of theft in the area.

According to Halbich, police patrols are not regular and at least one neighbouring hotel has seen a number of robberies, while there was an incident at Indian Bay beach up to last week.

Another hotelier in the area, who admitted being beaten during a break-in some time ago, said while Tourist Police tend to patrol during the day, the beachfront needs to be patrolled at night.

The hotelier said that the area could use more police protection although the police tend to have a quick response time to incidents. She added that she feels safe, although the hotel has had robberies in the past.

However, an employee of a third hotel in the area told SEARCHLIGHT that while there has not been an armed burglary at their hotel in some time, police patrols are poor.

“Other than when they come in to say what’s up, it’s not frequent,” she said.

The employee further stated that the security guards who are posted at the properties are usually young and unarmed, hinting that they are not well enough equipped to prevent burglaries and would sometimes fall asleep while on duty.

Up to press time no one has been arrested in relation to the Halbich attack and police officers are currently investigating the incident. (AS)

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