Gang tensions behind football stadium shooting

| 26/02/2024 | 123 Comments
Police Commissioner Kurt Walton at Monday’s press conference

(CNS): Police are working on the theory that heightened gang tensions are behind the shocking but targeted shooting last night at the Ed Bush football field in West Bay, where seven people were hit. Two George Town gangs are believed to have joined up with one of two long-standing gangs in West Bay in a battle against the rival West Bay gang.

However, Police Commissioner Kurt Walton said today that the police had no expectations that the recent spike in gang tensions would spill over into such a public place because, until now, shootings had been contained to known gang areas.

Speaking at a press conference Monday afternoon, Walton updated members of the media on the state of the investigation into the shooting. The current investigative hypothesis is that there was just one gunman who had made his way to the football ground through an adjacent piece of open land that backs up towards the Birch Tree Hill area of West Bay. But Walton said he may have been assisted by others to get away.

The shooter then opened fire, with “no regard for human life”, on a group of 20 to 25 people standing on the edge of the northeast corner pitch, close to the changing rooms, watching the game, Walton said. The gunman used a 9mm semi-automatic, and police believe he was aiming at at least two men, who were the intended targets.

Walton said that police officers had recovered multiple shell casings from the edge of the pasture where the shooter was firing from but did not say how many shots were fired. The police understand that there are CCTV cameras at the stadium, but they have yet to confirm if the system was operational and exactly what has been caught on camera, he said.

Three of the seven people who were shot remain in hospital, suffering from serious wounds; at least one was shot multiple times. However, the other four were not seriously injured and have since been discharged from the George Town Hospital.

There may have been as many as 300 people at the premier league match when the shooting occurred, and police are appealing for witnesses to come forward. The RCIPS has opened a major incident room and has specific lines of inquiry, but Walton said no one had been arrested at the time of the press conference. Additional firearms response teams will be deployed on the streets.

It was also announced a $250,000 reward — $200,000 from the government and $50,000 from Cayman CrimeStoppers — for information leading to a successful conviction in what everyone is describing as a shocking incident of gun violence.

“This truly was an unprecedented occurrence… It’s never happened before where we have an incidence of this magnitude at such a public event,” Walton said. Although seven people were shot, he said that things could have been far worse, given the indiscriminate firing by the gunman.

He also revealed some insight into the current understanding the RCIPS has of the existing gang tensions and changing profiles. He explained that four gangs are known to the police — two from George Town and two from West Bay — but three of them have merged and are working together against one of the West Bay gangs. The police estimate that this larger gang is now made up of around forty people.

Several Cayman Islands Football Association executives are currently overseas travelling with the national squad, but CIFA has temporarily suspended local games.

See the full press conference here.


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Category: Crime, Police

Comments (123)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    i remember reading a recurring comment whenever articles relating to “gun crime and gang activity”:

    “Leave them alone and make them kill themselves off”.

    It was, and remains, one of the wickedest recitations ever, and truthfully those who advocated for the murder of the young men by other young men by inciting murder with statements like that never for a moment thought that there was the least chance that they might become a unwilling participant in one of the events. Let this event be a reminder to us all to be careful what we ask for because we just might get it…albeit at a cost we might not want to pay.

    What is needed is community intervention and love to force out the hate, starting with us loving and encouraging these young men into positive behaviour.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Look down the line of the woman with a gun that drove around a Governor some years ago…

    • Anonymous says:

      Which governor..the one who used government house parties as his personal recruiting location.?

  3. Anonymous says:

    To 28/02/24 @ 5:26am. I see your point now. Last night while at the West Bay public meeting it was the commissioner accepting the full brunt of the criticism of policing the gun problem. He never once wavered or hid from his responsibility and neither did he try to blame others, other than the gunmen themselves and the persons that enable them. I heard him use the term to label some of the enablers as “merchants of evil”. I’ve never once heard that terminology before but it really got me thinking about these type of persons who are probably the root of the problem.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    I believe that we have a good Commissioner who means well, however, he can only be as effective as the laws and Constitution of these islands allow.The politicians sitting around him at the press conference need to earn the overinflated salaries they earn every month!! Change or amend what needs to be done and for God’s sake get a more diversified complement of officers for him to work with! The top heaviness of one nationality has crippled the effectiveness of the police.

  5. Bulldog says:

    The mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani tackled gang problems in New York by policy change to frisk these people left,right, and centre. Make the lives miserable day to day.

    We need that now. Hammer this problem.

    (and oh yea, bring back British cops)

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    • Anonymous says:

      During peak Giuliani heyday, there were innovative silent electric police NEVs deployed in crime areas to sneak up on and bust crime in progress. Importantly: arrests were made to convince thugs that things had changed. RCIPS have no interest in being anywhere near crime. They are hunt and poke typing crime reporters for insurance adjusters. They arrive quarter hours after the criminals made their escape, and wait til sunlight to take pictures on camera phones.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Stop and frisk was deemed to be unconstitutional. Principles only matter if you stand by them when they are inconvenient. Let’s find a policing solution that is effective but doesn’t have to skirt around or violate constitutional rights.

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      • Anonymous says:

        The thumbs down brigade must be oblivious to the stop and frisk racist tactics. Black men were targeted solely because of their skin color.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have been complaining for years about the racing on Sundays up and down the ETH from CI Yacht Club into WB. It happens the same time very week and the RCIP which has a station a half mile away can’t stop it. How can they possibly deal with gang violence?

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    • Anonymous says:

      So true…and the nuisance Indy 500 jake-braking dump trucks…can they really not hear these guys downshifting for miles and miles like anyone else? Pull them over and call their boss about the $1000 ticket. So frustrating, in that it is so easy to counter this easy stuff, and would contribute to CIG revenue!

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Relax people, Julianna has prayed to her all-powerful skygod so problem solved.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    If you want to reduce gang activity, make it less profitable. The War on drugs/ weed has obviously been lost a long time ago but we refuse to move in the direction of other countries and decriminalize/ legalize it. The boats that bring weed- also bring the guns, that’s a fact. FYI it’s not poor people who do coke.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Sadly, more often than not with this lot, it’s about the poom poom rather than the herb.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    The commissioner is very good at protecting his border security partners by taking the full brunt of all the firearms in our country. Why is no one talking about this? He won’t shy away from his responsibility as police commissioner to protect our community but what about the failings of our education and social systems? Why isn’t this being talked about? I know him well enough that he will not throw his partners under the bus publicly but somebody needs to start putting the others to task. Why are our youths turning to this life style? How are guns getting into our country? Kurt is a tough nut to crack and I know he has strong internal resilience from years of policing but he can’t be expected to fix all the problems in our country.

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    • Anonymous says:

      It should be clear by now that many of our morally-bankrupt politicians serve the unspoken illicit third pillar of the economy, both on demand and supply side. They know where the landings are made, who the gang leaders are, and meet with them, even while holding seats on the border security task force. Some of them brag about it. Any enterprising new comer that violates a Caymanian trade route gets arrested. How does any honourable Police chief navigate such a corrupt place, without themselves getting killed or corrupted? The answer is, “crime is stable”, and not the question, “who shot Dr Frank”.

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