By MERRICK ANDREWS, Staff Reporter
(St. Lucia News Online) — Officers of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) who responded to a shooting in Faux-A-Chaud, Castries last week have been commended for their restraint and professionalism during the brawl that eventually broke out, according to HTS News4orce.
That commendation is coming from RSLPF Press Officer, Corp. Ann Joseph.
Members of the Special Services Unit (SSU) were called for back-up from other officers who had moments earlier responded to reports of fighting and a male who sustained a gunshot wound in his leg.
However, when the SSU arrived on the scene and started to investigate they were obstructed by a male bystander who hurled expletives at them. A tussle ensued between the lawmen and the suspect whom they tried to apprehend. A gunshot was fired during the melee.
Several video clips of the chaotic scene were published on social media.
The shooting of the male reportedly occurred shortly before 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1.
According to HTS, Corporal Joseph said the incident highlights the resilience of law enforcement.
“A stray bullet could have gone into a home or somebody standing, by a child, could have been killed,” Joseph told HTS. “An adult, whoever it is, somebody who’s not involved in whatever fracas that was going, on could have been severely injured or even killed.”
Joseph added: “These officers were there to put a stop to whatever was going on, to initiate some arrests if possible, and to provide law and order to ensure that nothing went on further, no retaliation or anything of the sort. That was their job, that was their focus. And going in there, that individual who proceeded to attempt to obstruct the officers from conducting their duties and execute their duties, that individual, what we can say, is that was outright wrong. If you have an issue with officers conducting their duties, executing their duties, there are legal ways of going about challenging the behaviours of officers.”
But what caused the fracas?
A resident of the community and Corporal Joseph told HTS that the issue appeared to have stemmed from a dispute between two women.
A female resident explained: “There are two young ladies who have their problem going on… I was in my kitchen washing some dishes and I heard a loud noise on my door. So when I heard the noise I came out and see bottle breaking so I asked who send the bottle so they told me is the other lady, so I came outside and I called her and asked her what is going on…. then she started cursing, her sister, everybody started cursing.”
The resident continued: “Anyway, I end up calling the police. I didn’t call the police for any problems, I just called the police to talk to them to let them know what is going is not good because there are so many little children around.”
HTS reported that the police arrived and spoke to the females involved in the dispute. However, according to the resident “it didn’t take five minutes after police left, another ‘ro ro’ started again, cutlass everything”.
The woman said a “big fight” erupted between several males and she went inside her house. But according to the woman, it was not long after that “the other girl boyfriend run inside the house” with gunshot wounds.
HTS said the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was contacted as a result.
The press officer told HTS that the CID officers received “multiple reports alleging physical assault and the discharging of a weapon with intent to cause injury”.
HTS said responding officers arrived in a chaotic scene.
“The incident allegedly took place with a male who was not from the area and several other males from the area, as well as a female from the area and one who was not from the area, so that was the content of the report that was referred,” Corporal Joseph told HTS.
She further explained: “The officers proceeded to the area, and on arrival, they were unable to get information from the residents. Persons allegedly informed the officers that they did not know of any incident transpiring where an individual actually got a gunshot injury. After some further inquiries, the officers were led to the alleged victim and they did observe a male with what appeared to be a gunshot injury and they sought medical attention for that person through the Fire Service and he was transported via ambulance to the OKEU Hospital.”
HTS further reported that the officers radioed the SSU for backup.
On arrival, the SSU, during their investigation, searched a vehicle with full cooperation from the occupants. But it was an angry bystander who protested the actions of the police and began hurling insults at the lawmen, which did not go down well.
“That individual further threatened one of the officers who were there so it was decided that he would have been arrested for the threat and obstruction,” Joseph told HTS.
“Whilst trying to initiate the arrest, he resisted arrest and went on to compound things by assaulting one of the officers. And you can see from the video footage — I know everybody is referring to video footage — but from the video footage, you can also see that he proceeds to resist the arrest and assault one of the officers there,” Joseph said.
The medical status of the shooting victim is not known.