FRIDAY, MARCH 9: A mother has spoken of the terrifying moment a hooded thug pointed a gun at her son’s head.
Kendall Crolius and her two children were forced onto their hands and knees at gunpoint after two armed robbers broke into their Southampton holiday cottage on Monday evening.
Yesterday Mrs Crolius, who has been visiting Bermuda for more than 50 years, described the ordeal as “the worst moment of my life”.
She said: “The only thing worse than having a gun pointed at you is having a gun pointed at your child.
“They just kept yelling at us to keep our heads down as they went through our home and pulled out our drawers.
“I still don’t think it has really sunk in and I’m not sure whether I’ll ever be able to sleep in the house again.”
Hooded robbers shatter long-cherished image of Bermuda
For more than 50 years Kendall Crolius and her family have come to Bermuda for their holidays.
She describes the island as “our happy place”.
But her memories and love for Bermuda were shattered this week when two hooded robbers burst into the family’s Southampton holiday cottage and held them up at gunpoint.
The callous intruders forced Mrs Crolius, her 24-year-old son and her 21-year-old daughter onto their hands and knees before stealing their money, phones and a laptop.
Mrs Crolius told the Bermuda Sun: “It’s too early to say how this will affect us.
“I am not yet at the point where I can imagine sleeping in this house again.
“This was my ‘happy place’. It was somewhere we came as children and I brought friends and family to relax and enjoy life.
“I was instantly happy the moment I sat on the porch and looked out over the sea.
“Those are the things that these two men have stolen from me.
“I just don’t know if I will ever feel the same again.”
Mrs Crolius’s grandparents would travel from their home in Connecticut in the 1930s to holiday in Bermuda.
And she was just six years old when her parents first brought her and her siblings to the island.
Her parents bought the holiday cottage on South Road in Southampton that was targeted by the robbers this week in 1968 and they have been staying there ever since.
Mrs Crolius said: “We have come back at least every summer for as long as I can remember.
“We have brought friends here and told everyone about how wonderful Bermuda is.
“I remember we used to go down the beach and leave the house open.
“But it’s a different Bermuda these days. I have noticed the change over the last five years. When I was here about 18 months ago there were six shootings in 10 days. I have been one of Bermuda’s biggest ambassadors for a long time.
“I’m still a bit spooked and can not wrap my head around what has happened, but if this had happened to someone on their first visit they would never come back here again.
“An incident like this hurts the whole of Bermuda. People will not want to come here and international business will not send their workers here unless the problem is solved.”
Mrs Crolius and her two children arrived in Bermuda from Connecticut last Friday to help prepare the holiday cottage for renovation work. They had spent most of Monday in Hamilton and returned home in the afternoon.
Mrs Crolius said: “It was about 8:30pm and we were in the kitchen getting ready to paint.
“We had the music on and were laughing and singing away. I went to the bathroom at the other end of the house. As I opened the door I saw a shape, but my mind told me there can’t be a stranger in the bathroom so I thought it was one of the kids.
“He turned to me and I could see he was holding a gun. He told me to get down on my hands and knees.
“I didn’t scream. There was something in my head that still thought the kids could get away.
“He asked me who was in the house and I said my children.
“Then another guy appeared from the side. They were both dressed all in black. They had hooded tops on and one had a red bandana across his face.”
The two gunmen forced Mrs Crolius and her two terrified children on to the floor and demanded money.
She added: “I told him the money was in my purse.
“I started to get up to get my bag but they shouted at me to get down. Every time I looked up I was told to get my head down.
“They took the money and laid it down and then they went though every room and every drawer in the house. You could hear them pulling the drawers out.
“We just tried to stay calm as we waited in the lounge on our hands and knees.
“One guy came out of my son’s bedroom with some of his computer equipment and asked something, but none of us understood what he said.
“My son said he did not understand and the guy waved the gun in his face and said ‘don’t get smart with me’.
“I didn’t say anything. I was just hoping they would leave.”
The two gunmen grabbed the money, the children’s cellphones and Mrs Crolius’s laptop before jumping out the bedroom window they had broken in through.
Mrs Crolius said: “A lot of what happened is a blur.
“We keep telling each other it could have been worse and that we are lucky none of us were hurt.
“It does not feel real at the moment. We are coping and getting through it.
“But at the moment I can not say for sure when we’ll come back to Bermuda again. This has had a huge effect on all of us and I don’t know whether that will ever go away.
“I have not been able to sleep very well since. Every time I close my eyes I see that man with the gun in my bathroom.”
The two intruders are described as dark skinned, approximately 5ft 8inches tall and of slim built.
• Witnesses or anyone with any information regarding the robbery should contact the Serious Crime Unit on 247-1185 or the independent, confidential Crime Stoppers hotline on 800-8477.