* Photo by Simon Jones. Police presence: The mobile control unit was back on Court Street at the weekend, just a short distance from where the fatal shooting occurred on Friday.
* Photo by Simon Jones. Police presence: The mobile control unit was back on Court Street at the weekend, just a short distance from where the fatal shooting occurred on Friday.
Firearms have become the accepted way to 'send a message' in Bermuda's street culture.

Police believe the shootings have escalated beyond the conflict between rival Pembroke gangs Parkside and 42 that was blamed for a spate of gun murders late last year.

It is understood that several of the recent incidents, including Friday's triple shooting, may not be directly linked to the two warring gangs.

And the latest upsurge in violence across the island shows gangs outside the capital have also become embroiled in the conflict over turf and drugs.

Well-informed street sources suggested the shooting outside Place's Place was linked to a pricing dispute between drug dealers, though police would not confirm this.

James Lawes, a 26-year-old Jamaican who was killed in the incident, was not known to police as a key player in any gang. Sources told the Sun that Mr. Lawes was not believed to be the main target and his family say he has no connection to gangs or drugs.

And some senior officers believe that several of the 40 shootings recorded this year were not specifically gang related.

The 'tit-for-tat' shootings between Parkside and 42 are still a concern. But they now feel the continuation of gun violence in Bermuda may be connected to a culture-shift in criminal circles.

One police source told us: "It has almost become acceptable to use a gun. Even the shock in the community is not at the same level as it was.

"Instead of bringing fists or a knife to make a statement, the standard thing is to bring a gun. It is almost as though it now takes a gun to send the appropriate message."

When gun violence exploded across Bermuda late last year police believed the majority of incidents were linked to an escalating cycle of revenge-inspired shootings between two rival gangs.

They believe that conflict may have cooled slightly.

But they fear that firearms have simply replaced knives and machetes as the weapon of choice for criminals in Bermuda.

"The worrying thing is that if you want to make a point now, you bring a gun. That has become the way of letting people know you are serious."

Link-up between gangs?

Rumours on the street had suggested some of the violence may have been connected to a link-up between rival gangs combining their resources against the powerful Parkside gang.

One street source said: "People believe there has been some kind of peace to fight off this Parkside threat. The 42 guys seem relatively safe hanging out in Somerset. That's how it appears."

But while police say known gang members from town and from Somerset have been seen outside of their usual areas they do not believe there is any organized alliance.

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