Police release sketches of men who allegedly attacked Peace Corps volunteer
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is hoping that the distinctive nature of the sketches of the men who are alleged to have attacked a female Peace Corps volunteer helps jog the memory of persons who may have been in the vicinity at the time of the alleged attack.
On Monday, August 20, a 70-year-old female Peace Corps volunteer told police she was assaulted around 7:30 a.m. in the area outside the Leeward Bus Terminal. Following her report of the alleged attack, she and the 22 other Peace Corps volunteers were evacuated by the United States (US) government to St Lucia.
The sketches were released on Monday at a press conference at Cabinet Room and Commissioner of Police (COP) Colin John asked the public to come forward with any information they may have.
The sketches were drawn by professionals based on descriptions given by the female volunteer. The sketches were made available to the local police by the United States Embassy in Barbados.
“We are very grateful for this help from the sketch artist from the United States authorities because we now have the face, the image of the alleged assailants so we are moving hopefully closer towards the conclusion,” the Prime Minister told members of the press.
The volunteer alleges that her assailants were both of middle eastern descent and did not speak with a Caribbean accent. She further alleges that both assailants were wearing olive green pants tucked into the top of their black boots and dark coloured long sleeve shirts tucked into their pants and one of them had a scarf around his neck. He had a full beard the other alleged assailant had no beard according to the volunteer.
She said as she was walking, she was grabbed from behind in a bear hug; her arms were pinned and she was pushed into an alcove next to an empty market table and partition. In the process of the alleged assault she said she was “punched in her stomach, her button-up blouse was ripped open, her breasts were grabbed and squeezed; her head was slammed down on a vendor’s table; and she was spat upon at the back of her neck”.
The volunteer further alleges that during the assault, her assailants spoke many angry and derogatory words about the American President, the Peace Corps generally, and female Peace Corps volunteers.
After the alleged attack, the volunteer made it to the Milton Cato Memorial hospital where she was attended to by a doctor and a nurse.
“I have been advised that the Doctor’s Medical Report affirms/confirms scratches to the face, neck, upper arm and chest; and bruises to the left upper arm, left abdomen, and left breast of the volunteer,” the Prime Minister said.
Gonsalves said that initially, the CID assumed the attack was carried out by one of a few known “hustlers”, but that assumption was later dismissed when the woman’s bag was found with most of her possessions intact.
Items reported missing from the bag were a Peace Corps folder and an identification card with her home address in the United States of America (USA).
“Later she said that EC$60 was in the folder in the bag which was not touched. The alleged disappearance and the alleged return of the volunteer’s purse, not the bag, with the keys in it remain among the many puzzles for the police,” Gonsalves told media personnel.
He said that it is clear from the allegation that the person is not a Caribbean person or a local.
“…We are looking for middle easterners with a specific distinctive appearance …,” the Prime Minister said.
Closed Circuit Television Footage (CCTV) from the area where the alleged incident took place shows among other things what appears to be a bag being placed by the volunteer on a table, the very spot where the bag was later retrieved by the police. After placing the bag on the table, the volunteer picks up an umbrella and walks away, leaving the bag behind. The police arrive three hours later and retrieve the bag.
The Prime Minister said he has not been informed about the return date of the volunteers, but he wants them to return as the government and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines highly value the contribution of the volunteers.