Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has expressed outrage over the recent gun murders that took place in his constituency and has admonished youths to choose a path away from crime.
The Premier also shared an emotional tale of personally witnessing the aftermath of the recent shooting that claimed two lives and left two others – including a minor – nursing injuries at a local hospital.
According to Premier Wheatley, his office is just next door to the bar where the shooting took place and he was holding a meeting when the shots first rang out. “When we walked outside of the office, we saw the big crowd and you saw dozens of people in full view of lifeless bodies on the ground,” Dr Wheatley told the House of Assembly (HOA).
The Premier said he later realised that one of the victims was a relative he had just spoken to earlier in the day that had requested assistance with job placement. The other victim that was shot and killed was also a cousin of his, the Premier stated.
“These things are hard to swallow in the Virgin Islands
– a close-knit community, we’re all related, we all know each other,” the Dr Wheatley said.
“The Government of National Unity and I are firmly committed to our responsibilities in supporting law enforcement in the fight against crime. We are outraged to see the path that some persons have chosen to follow, and we will not stand for it,” the Premier said recently.
While seizing the opportunity to issue a reminder that his government will soon be bringing the Police Act before the HOA, the Premier said his government is committed to continuing to make resources available to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF), so they can perform their law enforcement and public safety functions.
He said those functions should be done whether it is by preventing and deterring criminal activity, or ensuring perpetrators are identified, held and brought before the court for justice.
“As a government, we are also committed to continuing to develop and implement policies, programmes and initiatives to give our people, of all ages and backgrounds, the options to lead productive and upstanding lives as honest, law-abiding citizens. Ultimately, however, it comes down to the individual’s choice of doing right over doing wrong; and the vast majority of our people choose to do right and to live in peace,” Dr Wheatley stated.
While urging youth to reject a life of crime and violence, the Premier said such a life has no future. “Such a life will only be filled with regret. Such a life will only bring pain and grief to you and the people who care about you when you end up in jail or, worse, dead. There are better, more productive and positive things to do with your time, your energy and your intellect,” the Premier said.