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Downtown shooting triggers Bahamas tourism worries
Published on February 26, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

A Bahamian police officer points his gun at the suspect’s vehicle in this YouTube video grab

By Royston Jones Jr.
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Shoppers and patrons on Bay Street, in downtown Nassau, Bahamas, were shocked on Friday when a police officer opened fire on a suspect, who was attempting to evade police capture.

According to police, a man suspected of fraud refused to step out of a gray Honda at around 11 a.m.

In a bid to escape, the suspect knocked the officer off his bicycle and attempted to hit a second officer.

Superintendent Ashton Greenslade, commander of the Central Division, said the first officer got to his feet, determined his partner’s life was in danger and shot the suspect.

Even after being shot the suspect refused to give himself up and led police on a chase, police said.

The 43-year-old suspect abandoned the car and attempted to escape on foot but was subsequently captured.

The suspect was taken to hospital by emergency medical services (EMS) personnel where his condition was reported to be stable.

He was unarmed, Greenslade confirmed.

Footage showing the incident surfaced on YouTube on Saturday and has since gone viral. In that video a uniformed officer is seen shouting at the suspect.

The suspect attempts to drive away, but cannot proceed because of another car ahead.

At that point in the video, the officer draws his gun and fires twice before attempting to break the windshield with the butt of his gun.

The suspect maneuvers around the car ahead and attempts to drive away. The officer then fires several more shots in the suspect’s direction.

Onlookers, including visitors, on either side of the street can be heard screaming.

Asked whether the officer’s actions were excessive, Greenslade said the video is not a true reflection of what happened.

“The officer you see trying to shoot out the tire is actually the officer who got hit,” he said. “This is when he actually picked up his bicycle and attempted for a second time to stop this fellow.”

Greenslade said an investigation has commenced into this police-involved shooting to determine whether the officer acted appropriately.

“It is a concern when an officer has to discharge their weapon anywhere and though the downtown area is a busy area… no bystander was hit and so I believe the officer practiced good judgment and used restraint. From where I sit it’s straightforward.”

Greenslade revealed late last year the suspect had a similar encounter with police, but managed to escape.

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe, who was contacted for comment on Sunday, said he was concerned that the incident could do “irreparable damage” to the country tourism.

“In your main street to have gun shots is just certainly unacceptable and sends the wrong message for a country that proliferates a message of peace and tranquility,” he said.

“I think that again as I keep saying we have to take stock. We have to determine where we are because we are doing irreparable damage.”

He added that the government has a collective responsibility to protect the citizenry of this country and those that choose to visit it, but Friday’s incident portrays The Bahamas negatively.

Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian
Reads: 7169

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