By Royston Jones Jr.
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter
NASSAU, Bahamas -- The United States Embassy in Nassau has again warned Americans living in and traveling to The Bahamas to be on “heightened alert” and “review their personal security plans” to avoid falling victim to crime.
The embassy issued a statement on Friday pointing to crimes that took place within the last month, including the attempted robbery of an armoured truck in Cable Beach last week.
However, none of those incidents involved visitors, according to Assistant Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson.
The embassy said police “responded and neutralized” three armed men who were shooting outside a local nightclub.
According to police, officers shot a suspect multiple times outside the club shortly after 2 am. Police said two victims were transported to hospital.
The embassy said that three suspects attempted to rob an armoured truck, as two security guards transferred money into the truck, but the guards ran into a nearby restaurant and eluded the men.
The suspects fled when they heard police sirens, the embassy said.
“On March 20 at approximately 2 pm, a woman sitting in her vehicle in the parking lot of Caves Village Plaza was approached by three men in a car,” read the statement.
“One of the men exited the vehicle wielding a gun and demanded that the woman get out of her car.
“The attempted carjacking was thwarted when the woman’s screaming brought other passersby, who blocked the vehicle.
“The man got out of the vehicle and escaped with his companions in their own car.”
In another incident, the embassy highlighted that police arrested three suspects, two of whom were wearing electronic monitoring devices last Monday.
The statement said on March 16, a man approached another man on a motorbike at Arawak Cay and demanded that he get off. When the man refused, the suspect shot him.
The embassy said armed robberies remain a major threat to US citizens and Bahamians in tourist populated areas on New Providence and Grand Bahama.
“In the past year, a number of US citizens have fallen victim to armed robbery,” the embassy said.
“The Bahamian government has publicly stated its commitment to fighting crime and has increased anti-crime measures.
“Among the measures now being taken are increased police patrols and traffic stops.
“We remind US citizens driving in The Bahamas to carry identification and their driver’s licenses and to cooperate with the police at traffic stops and identification checks.”
The embassy encouraged US citizens to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to get security updates and to be more easily contacted in case of an emergency.
The embassy has issued several similar warnings over the past few months, the most recent being in January.
Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade has said that, up to March 19, all categories of violent crime with the exception of murder have trended downward.
Meanwhile, ahead of the embassy statement being released, Prime Minister Perry Christie on Friday renewed his commitment to “smother and suffocate” crime.
Christie said the government will dedicate more resources to law enforcement and social intervention programs.
“I am continuing to dedicate resources to the police force because I intend to smother, to smother and suffocate this bad behaviour,” he said.
“At the same time [I will] continue to dedicate resources to holistic programs of Urban Renewal where in the big sense of the word we are able to deal with kids in their environment as we find them.
“And the reason I have chosen to say this to you is because no matter what kind of speech we make... unless we are able to control the behaviour of young people in this country, some of whom arrogate the right onto themselves to shoot and kill and rob with impunity, then we are not working in accordance with our Christian ethic and heritage.”
During an interview last week, Greenslade said, “What we have are core groups of people, who are feuding among themselves.”
He said the majority of those people are not educated, do not have jobs and they are not looking for work because “they have decided to make a life of crime their business”.
Although he was not responding directly to Greenslade, Christie said, “It is not good enough to believe it is a group of them.”
“When there is a culture of killing created it becomes a culture, and cultures are not geographically constrained,” he said.
He said the future of The Bahamas rests on the government being able to create centres of economic activity, particularly on the Family Islands.
“That is happening in Bimini, that is happening on San Salvador, it is happening in Cat Island and Exuma, it is happening,” Christie said.
“And I can tell you by the grace of God, in the coming weeks as I make further announcements you will know that the economy of The Bahamas is going through major transformation.
“More and more Bahamians will have a dignified path to jobs, and better jobs.
“The unemployment rate will be coming down. This is nothing that I am shooting the breeze about.”
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian