Good afternoon Turks and Caicos, its Friday 9th September 2022 and I am speaking to you from Police Headquarters on the ongoing issues of violent crime in a number of our communities.
During the early hours of yesterday morning, I visited the scene of the most recent murder on the Turks and Caicos Islands. A 27-year-old man, who has been identified as Ellington Been was shot dead outside his home on Academy Way Providenciales.
It is believed that Mr Been was killed by three men who shot him multiple times in a cowardly and savage manner. It is clear that high powered assault firearms were used in this attack. An attack that we believe is connected to the ongoing violence in Five Cays.
Having spoken with Mr Been’s family at the scene, I witnessed firsthand the utter devastation, grief, anguish and turmoil that this violence is causing and the despair at losing another young man’s life in such a terrible way.
I believe this most recent murder is fueled by revenge and retribution, a cycle of killing that needs to stop before more families are left in life long grief.
To this end, I am appealing for calm and restraint from those involved; I am appealing to the friends and families of the young men involved to do all you can to persuade them to step back from these illegal activities that have led to violence; violence that will perpetuate more killing and heartache.
These murders are causing great fear within our communities and the men and women of the RTCIPF are working hard to deal with the criminals and crime that are creating the harm and fear.
We also know that the young men who are perhaps themselves involved in crime, are fearful for their safety and their very lives.
You have an option to turn yourselves into the Police, to present yourselves at a Police Station. We can only assist you if you come to us, tell us what’s going on and what is causing your fear and we will do what we can to protect you. You have the rest of your life to live, you still have a chance to change the path you are on and live a different way, but you must first come to us. It’s your choice.
You will be aware that there are a number of daily operations being undertaken by the RTCIPF. We are working hard to identify, locate and bring to justice those involved in this cycle of violence. I am very grateful to those members of the community who are telling us what they know and for their support to my officers and what we are trying to do.
My message to the criminals is that we are closing in on you, this will end with you being arrested or you being killed by the very violence you are involved in.
In the early hours of this morning, a significant policing operation was undertaken in Dock Yard. This operation is linked to the ongoing violence and members of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force Tactical Unit supported by the Royal Caymans Islands Police Service helicopter executed search warrants at over twenty premises in Dock Yard.
Whilst no arrests were made, drugs and other property was seized and is now being investigated.
Disturbingly, during the operation officers at the location of the policing activity were shot at by cowards hiding near to the yard. In response and in order to protect themselves, officers returned fire. During this exchange, no Police Officers were injured and it is not believed that the criminals who attempted to murder the Police officers were themselves struck by the gunfire.
The attempted murder of Police Officers who are carrying out their duty to protect their communities is an escalation of violence that will not be tolerated and there will be a reaction to this from the Force
During a media briefing on Monday (05th September, 2022), I warned those intent on targeting my officers to think twice when I said ‘… if you choose to threaten a police officer with a firearm, then you have made a choice that will no doubt have consequences.
My officers are legally empowered to protect themselves and our law abiding citizens from others who are armed and they will do so if threatened. If you threaten the life of a police officer, you will face potential lethal force as they protect themselves. Do not make a bad decision”.
I repeat that advice today to those people who are involved in crime.
Finally, in thanking again those members of the TCI community for their help and support, I again appeal for anyone who has information on crime and those carrying it out to tell us. If you know something, say something.