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We are not aware of any ongoing gang wars – RSVGPF

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Although Ottley Hall/Edinboro residents have complained about the level of gang violence in their community, the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) says it is unaware of any such dispute.

Since the year began, there have been a number of gun-related incidents, two of which ended in death.

SEARCHLIGHT spoke to residents on different occasions and although they were reluctant to give their names, they stressed that there is an ongoing dispute between two community gangs and innocent residents fear for their lives.

On Thursday, May 11, 45-year-old chauffeur Andy “Fox” Garrick was shot in the chest in Ottley Hall, while making his way home. He was rushed to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH), where he later died.

A month earlier, on April 12, 34-year-old Shemeal Bowens, a mother of five, died in a hail of bullets, while sitting at the side of the road in the same district.

Reports are that two gunmen shot at her brother, who was in the area and when they missed, they turned their attention to her.

It was also reported that on March 9, 2017, the driver of a minibus that operates in the Ottley Hall area barely escaped with his life when a gunman opened fire on the vehicle, in an attempt to hit a passenger.

However, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, crime chief and Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Frankie Joseph said they recorded no such report.

Joseph said the police are aware that Ottley Hall continues to be a crime hot spot, but compared to a few years ago the level of violence is down.

“Years ago, the police used to have a lot of violence coming from Ottley Hall/Edinboro and we put in the mobile station and that has really quelled the violence considerably, and we had the mobile station there for a few years,” the crime chief explained.

He added that they had to remove the station because it was needed in other areas, but officers assigned to the communities have not reported any such disputes.

“I know when we just went in to Ottley Hall/Edinboro …that there was serious group rivalry, Ottley Hall verses Edinboro. The guys from Ottley Hall couldn’t go to Edinboro and the guys from Edinboro couldn’t go to Ottley Hall, but I have not really received information that that is really taking place and as I say, we have police officers housed over there and that is not the information that we have received.”

Joseph, however, promised to look into the residents’ concerns.

The officer in charge of crime told SEARCHLIGHT that while he is not downplaying the two recent killings, he is satisfied that there is no upsurge in crime in Otley Hall.

Joseph remained tight-lipped, though, about the organization’s plan for the area, but called on Ottley Hall residents to assist officers in solving crimes in the area.

“The police cannot fight the issue of crime on its own,” he stressed. “We need the support of the general public, because as I continue to say, 99 per cent of the times that crime is being committed is in the absence of the police, so we rely heavily on the information from the general public,” he stressed.

Joseph said the leadership of the force continues to “preach confidentiality and professionalism to its officers” and so persons should feel safe giving any information to them.

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