Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has urged that much more must be done to stem the rising tide of gun crime facing the territory and has called for an action plan to be prepared on how to address this challenge.
Dr Wheatley’s comments come in the wake of the latest shooting death to occur in the East End/Long Look (EE/LL) community, where he disclosed that the victim was a cousin.
“These senseless deaths must stop,” Premier Wheatley said. “It is imperative that we remove illegal guns from our Virgin Islands now. It is time for action and your government will make this a top priority.”
Following the shooting, Dr Wheatley said he attended a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) — the latest in a string of several such meetings called after similar gun murders in the community. During the meeting, the premier said he requested an action plan to confront the challenge of violent crime facing the community
“I’ve pressed for an action plan, but that action plan must include border security,” Dr Wheatley stated. “Because we know that illegal guns are coming into the territory.
He added: “We’re surrounded by water, so they’re coming in by sea and I’m pressing the National Security Council, as well as my own Ministry of Finance to ensure that we get radar so that we can detect any illegal vessels entering into the territory. According to the premier, these illegal vessels may be engaged in smuggling guns, drugs, and even human trafficking.
In the meantime, Dr Wheatley promised that a joint statement will be issued later today alongside Governor John Rankin
, which he said will be making a firm commitment towards tackling crime and preserving the territory’s security. “We are resolved that more must be done to arrest crime and solve murder cases,” Dr Wheatley stated.
The premier urged everyone to do their part, including providing information to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF), which can be done anonymously and to report suspicious activity taking place in the various communities.
Premier Wheatley also promised to engage Education Minister, Sharie de Castro, in the fight against delinquency in schools which he suggested could also lead to a life of crime. “When you detain criminals and you have new criminals popping up every day, it is certainly a challenge,” the premier said.
“The fight against violent crime cannot be won without the support of the community,” Dr Wheatley added.