“The murders we have seen this year seem to be more targeted on individuals."Assistant Commissioner Antoine Daniels, Bermuda Police
“The murders we have seen this year seem to be more targeted on individuals."
Assistant Commissioner Antoine Daniels, Bermuda Police

FRIDAY, DEC. 14: Imitation guns are increasingly being used to wreak terror as criminals exploit a climate of fear that has developed in Bermuda.

Nearly half of the firearms seized by police in 2012 were imitation weapons and some of the most terrifying crimes were committed with plastic guns incapable of firing a bullet.

Detectives have also intercepted a Glock Handgun at the Airmail Facility near the airport and found a 9mm revolver on the roof of a Pembroke house, in a year that has so far seen four men shot dead.

Assistant Commissioner Antoine Daniels told the Bermuda Sun: “We have seen an increase in the use of imitation firearms in robberies and home invasions in the last two years. This is because the environment has changed in Bermuda and today people are more likely to back down because they believe it is a real gun.

“Imitation guns have been used in the past, but the difference today is the climate of fear that exists in Bermuda. And the trouble is you really can not tell the difference between imitations and the real thing.

“Some of these imitations can be bought in toy shops, but they are effective now because of the environment that has developed in Bermuda as a result of shootings and gang violence.”

Assistant Commissioner Daniels revealed that shooting scenes in 2012 were often littered with bullet casings, which has promoted concerns about the availability of ammunition on the island. He added: “Before we would go to the scene of a shooting and we would find one or two bullet shells. But now we are finding six, seven, eight casings at the crime scene.

“That makes us believe more ammunition has got on to the island because the shooters would be much more conservative if there was a shortage.

“It’s different types of ammo too — 9mm and 45 calibre casings — and it’s a real concern for us.

“We are trying to address it and find out where the gaps are that this ammo is getting in.”

This year four men have been shot and killed, while a further seven have been injured as a result of gunfire.

A total of 10 firearms have been seized by police in 2012 including a 9mm pistol just last month, which has already been linked to attempted murder unsolved investigations.

There have also been 29 seizures of guns or ammunition across the island.

Assistant Commissioner Daniels said gangs had been hit hard by a series of high-profile convictions, murders and gang leaders leaving the island.

But he said some of the shot callers were still pulling strings from behind the walls of Westgate.

He added: “There are still people on the outside willing to take up the reins.

“And just because the gang leaders are in Westgate it does not stop them providing information and instructions to the soldiers on the outside. Bermuda is small and everyone knows each other.

“And it seems gang leaders are still gang leaders if they are in prison and capable of pulling the strings.

“The prisons do a great job with what they have but because of the technology that exists today and the fact that some prisoners will be in prison for a short period of time, there is a channel of communication.”

Assistant Commissioner Daniels added: “When the gangs loose their leaders everyone down below is left scrambling trying to be the main man. Before there was some kind of structure, but now these guys are more gung-ho. We have seen gangs deliberately recruiting from people outside their own, with little or no criminal records, to avoid police attention.

“And one gang will target the gang which they see as the biggest threat to them.

“The murders we have seen this year seem to be more targeted on individuals. In the past we have seen guys on bikes driving through an area and shooting at a group rival gang members. But now they go after that one target.

“It seems there is an attitude of ‘we get them before they get us’.”