Taylor was a great guy’ – Spence
The gun murder of a man who used dance to spread an anti-violence message was described yesterday by community activist Gina Spence as hurtful, painful and shocking.
Taylor Grier used his platform as a founding member of dance group Bermuda Squad to empower other young men, according to Ms Spence, who was among the emergency responders team who attended the hospital after Friday’s shooting.
Mr Grier, a 30-year-old father, who is known by the nickname “Taylor Made” was killed when a gunman opened fire at the junction of Court Street and Elliot Street at about 10pm.
A second victim, a 55-year-old man, was treated at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening.
Ms Spence, founder and CEO of community outreach charity Gina Spence Productions, said: “I knew the young man, so it was very, very sad because he was one of those gentlemen who had a very positive attitude.
“During the last May 24 Bermuda Day Parade, he was really sending an anti-violence message out to the young people.
“He also mentored so many young men through his dance group, Bermuda Squad.
“That was his passion. But more importantly than liking to dance, he loved to encourage and empower young men through dance.
“That was his outreach. So for someone to send a message, trying to get young people to stay positive, to be gunned down in this way is really, really hurtful, painful and shocking.
“And on top of all of that, he was a great guy. He was the life of the party.”
Ms Spence said Mr Grier, whom she described as a very involved father to his daughter, was always willing to pitch in with events hosted by Gina Spence Productions, a non-profit that specialises in bereavement services for children and families.
She added: “There is no one answer. We don’t know why these young men are doing these acts, especially in a situation like this, where it appears to be mistaken identity or someone who really had no affiliation with gangs and all that sort of stuff. It just boggles the mind.”
Ms Spence said Mr Grier’s murder would impact his immediate family as well as his “extended family” in the dance world.
She added: “My message to the community is that we are here to provide that support.”
“The broader impact are all of those young men and their families, all of the communities that Taylor was connected to, because as a dancer you are being invited to dance everywhere.
“He was well-known in the community itself, well-loved, well-respected, so it’s going to be a huge impact across the island.
“We definitely give our condolences to his parents and his daughter and Bermuda Squad.”
Ms Spence encouraged anyone in need of help coming to terms with what had happened to reach out to the organisation.
Cleveland Simmons, a veteran activist from North Hamilton, called on Government to take immediate action and warned that more lives would be lost to gun violence if the wrong approach was taken. Mr Simmons, a member of several community groups including the Young Progressives, said: “The community is suffering, coming apart at the seams and I am concerned. This is a state of emergency. We have a crisis.
“The powers that be need to sit down with me and my people and look how we can address this very serious issue right away, not next week, next month, but tomorrow, the next day, as soon as possible.”
He added: “I am just concerned as an advocate for change and this is my area, that something is done immediately. If the wrong approach is taken, then we will have another shooting.”
Mr Simmons said that part of the problem was that the responsibility for tackling gun violence and gang problems in Bermuda had been passed from minister to minister.
“It’s taken seriously but everyone has their own agenda and in their agenda, they are going to work according to their agenda.”
He said concepts such as his Caravan programme, designed to bring people together, had won favour with the former government. But he added: “Then came an election — the same problem again.”
Police said Mr Grier was killed by a gunman who arrived on a motorcycle with another person.
One witness described hearing about six gunshots during the incident.
A suspect was arrested shortly before midnight on Friday and was detained at Hamilton Police Station.
Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said he was “extremely saddened by this tragedy”.
He added: “It is very disheartening that as we prepare to celebrate our Cup Match holiday, our community is rocked by this tragic act of gun violence.”
“I wish to extend my sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the victim. Our thoughts are with them during this time.”
Mr Caines said he had been briefed on the murder investigation and urged anyone with information about the incident to co-operate with police.
He also said the Crisis Response Team was active on Friday in response to the shooting and revealed that extra steps would be taken to reassure the community over the weekend.
Mr Caines, who on Friday outlined a policing plan for the Cup Match holiday, also reiterated Government’s commitment to ensure the safety of the community.
He said: “We are working tirelessly to ensure the safety and security of our community by stepping up our public safety efforts.
“We will update our policing strategy for the holiday. And those who seek to disrupt should know that we will address any activity of violence with the appropriate measures.”
A police spokesman said yesterday that a family liaison officer had been assigned to Mr Grier’s family and a “full investigation has commenced”.
Witnesses should call police on 295-0011. For more information on the services offered by Gina Spence Productions, visit www.ginaspenceproductions.com or call Gina Spence on 707-5224.
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