The new reality: These heavily armed police officers were on duty at court yesterday as a slew of defendants accused of murder, robbery and other serious crimes made appearances. <a href="../main.asp?SectionID=24&amp;SubSectionID=270&amp;ArticleID=61483" target="_self">There was an alarming incident</a> when inmates partially opened the back door to their prison van. <em>*Photo by Kageaki Smith</em>
The new reality: These heavily armed police officers were on duty at court yesterday as a slew of defendants accused of murder, robbery and other serious crimes made appearances. There was an alarming incident when inmates partially opened the back door to their prison van. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

FRIDAY, NOV. 2: An increase in the number of armed police officers on patrol was last night welcomed by the family of a gun victim.

And Shawnette Easton, cousin of taxi driver Michael Phillips, who was gunned down outside the Mid-Atlantic Boat Club last month, said a stronger armed police presence could save lives.

Ms Easton added: “I welcome this very much – it may help prevent another family having to go through what we went through.”

Cameras

She added: “It’s good for them to be patrolling — but there should be more cameras in shooting hot spots as well.

“And dark visors also have to be banned. They must be, because you can’t see what’s behind these visors.”

She was speaking as Police Commissioner Michael De Silva announced that armed police will be deployed across more of the island to tackle a rise in the number of shootings.

Mr Phillips, 42, a taxi driver, was shot outside the North Shore Road, Devonshire, boat club around 9.30pm on Sunday, October 14.

He was preparing to head home after seeing friends in his home area of Loyal Hill, a regular Sunday event for him.

Mr Phillips, a father of two, was a frequent visitor to his home area, although he lived in Southampton.

Police ruled out any gang connection to Mr Phillips.

His family said they feared that Mr Phillips, who they said did not have a criminal record of any kind, was targeted because simply because he was outside the club when the gunmen arrived.

Mr De Silva said it was not clear whether a fresh supply of ammunition had arrived on the island recently.


But he said that the move was aimed at ensuring that the appropriate level of armed response could react immediately to firearms incidents.

Mr De Silva said: “I have also looked at the deployment of our armed police officers and I have taken steps this week to provide more coverage, especially in the areas that need it.


“We cannot predict exactly where the next shooting might take place, but I have ensured that we will have an appropriate level of armed response to react immediately.”

He added: “The number of rounds that have been discharged at each incident lately is higher than we have typically seen.

“Whether or not a fresh supply of ammunition has been smuggled is not clear: but it is clear that there are still gunmen at large that need to be captured and brought to justice.

“Our Community Action Teams have been patrolling in several neighbourhoods this week, especially in the Somerset area, to speak with residents.


“We are looking for information that will lead us to arrest the shooters, or find the guns, before the next shot is fired. Every piece of information that the public gives us is helpful.”


Mr De Silva urged islanders with information about the latest spate of shootings to contact police or Crime Stoppers.


He added:”The Bermuda Police Service has not received any reports of shipments of illegal ammunition or any information about planned retaliations between rival gangs.

“I encourage anyone with genuine information about either of these scenarios to contact the police directly, or to make an anonymous report through Crime Stoppers on 800-8477.


“Crime Stoppers will reward up to $100,000 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction, or a seizure of a firearm.”