East End residents upset with level of crime in their community and say 'enough is enough'

by: Lededra Marche, News Editor

A number of residents in East Grand Bahama are deeply concerned and upset over the level of crime in the area and say the murder, which occurred during the home invasion a week ago, is enough.

“Enough has already happened to warrant serious concern and action,” one resident told The Freeport News.

An 81-year-old couple was at home six weeks ago when three armed bandits broke in, bound, gagged and robbed them of cash before they left early that morning.

Residents who had been victims of break-ins and stealings over the years, or had neighbors who have, are not pleased with the investigations and became more disturbed over the fact that the police postponed a planned town meeting on Thursday two hours before it was to get underway.

The town meeting, which was called for residents of Gold Rock Creek, New Free Town, Turtle Reef, Gambier Point and Bevans Town, was to allow them to address their concerns to police and make suggestions.

On Tuesday, April 8, three men, one armed with a handgun and the other with a machete, killed British visitor Edgar George Dart and tied up the remaining six members of his family during a home invasion in Emerald Bay.

Dart had come to Grand Bahama to visit his mother who has reportedly been living here some 18 years.

The bandits stole cash and jewelry and made away in the gardener’s truck. 

The incident occurred with an American couple some 20 miles away from where the initial home invasion took place on March 3.

The elderly couple celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary on Thursday and is happy to be alive. 

The intruders stole cash and got away with the couple’s wedding bands.

The homeowner said he noticed something unusual that morning and went downstairs to check when he was jumped by the three men.

“That’s when they grabbed me. They got me and they beat me up pretty bad and I don’t fight too good at 81,” he said.

One of the men reportedly had a machete and the others, a black 9mm or 45mm Glock.

The trio had also accosted the gardener in the basement area and the elderly wife. 

“They tied him up pretty good and put him in the house with us and were pretty rough on us, you know,” the homeowner told The Freeport News.

The intruders bound them, put tape around their mouths and left in their gardener’s truck.  

“It was the same time, same schedule. Same thing we read in the paper that they did down there (over the bridge),” he said.

The intruders also cut the phone lines and destroyed all of the telephones in the house before leaving.

“They took our rings off. I told my wife, I said, I guess we’re not married anymore,” the man said. “Mine wasn’t that easy to get off and he came back a couple of times until he worked it off. I thought he would probably tore my finger. But he didn’t”

The couple said they dialed 911 and the number to the police but didn’t get an answer, so one of the neighbors had to go and fetch a police officer and inform him of the incident.

The elderly man had to receive medical attention.

“These guys clearly have no fear of the law or lack there of,” another resident said. “There is no law for them they’ve made that evident.”

The residents learned that shortly after the initial incident, a number of males were picked up, but let go due to a lack of evidence.

“You’ve got to be a moron to think that these are unrelated incidents,” one resident said.

Aside from the home invasions, several residents said over the years items were stolen from their yards and from inside their homes.

Residents said police are aware of items that were stolen from the different homes recently and those that are being used in other incidents.

The residents are fearful that the crimes have escalated from burglary to robbery and now murder.

Dart was murdered in front of his 13-year-old son and family

“Thy had to sit there and watch him die over the course of an hour while they were tied up and these people ransack their house. 

“There is no punishment suitable for them and there is no method that these police should not be approaching in order to end this.”

The Freeport News asked Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Emrick Seymour yesterday if he was aware that the residents in the east are upset and concerned over the incident and the fact that the meeting was postponed.

“We had to postpone the meeting as a result of circumstances beyond our control. 

“But we postponed it to be held at a later date,” he said.

ACP Seymour could not say exactly when that later date will be.

“We’ll let them know accordingly,” he said

Seymour denied earlier information from a police officer who visited the residents on Thursday that the postponement was as a result of an order from Cabinet.

“We got no order from anybody to postpone any meeting,” he said, adding that he asked the officer in charge, Superintendent David Deveaux, to put the meeting off due to circumstances beyond their control.

“I asked him to go around to the residents and let them know. So whoever (the) officer (is who])told them that, they misled the people,” he said.

Seymour said the superintendent has met with the residents and is meeting with them at the next town meeting.

However, he could not say when that meeting took place.

“I directed him to. I’ll have to find out when, but I directed him to since we said we postposed the meeting.”

ACP Seymour confirmed that there were some arrests and explained why they were released.

“We may have taken in some people. In the absence of evidence, we cannot hold people. The matters are still open and a wide-open investigation. We are very, very much aware of those matters. My detectives are vigorously looking into all of those matters, every last one, until we bring some resolution to them,” he said.

“But we can’t go and pick up someone on somebody’s suspicion; we have to have evidence. That’s what we take to court. We don’t’ take suspicion to court and people have to understand that the police can only work with what the police has – evidence. That’s the strength of our case when we take it to court.”

Seymour said the police can arrest and charge five suspects, put them before the court and still get criticized.

“We’re meticulous in our resolve in terms of bringing these matters to some sort of conclusion,” he said. “That’s why we are methodical in our approach in all of the investigations.

“We can’t conclude on the investigation when the victim wants it to be done, you know. We go where the investigation leads and all my officers have been on the ground, from these incidents happen to bring some resolution to that.”

The Grand Bahama police chief has confirmed that the nature of the crimes are similar, including the fact that both gardeners were tied up and their vehicles stolen.

“There were some similarities in most of those incidents. we have seen some similarities,” he said.

Asked if police are concerned by this, Seymour said they always are.

“We are concerned about any act of criminality, wherever it happens. We are trained professionals, we deal with these matters every day,” he said.

“We will not allow any public outcry or any sort of pressure to make us to act out of character. We know what we have to do, so we’re trained and all I ask people to do is allow the police to do their work.”

As for any arrests, the assistant commissioner of police said his officers are strategically investigating all matters before doing so.

“We cannot jump when people want us to jump. We have to methodically, systematically investigate these matter to ensure that we get all of the necessary requisite evidence with which to bring someone to justice,” he said.

Published  Monday, April 14, 2014

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