Activist fears photos will fuel revenge attacks
Images of a gun murder released by police could lead to vigilante justice, a community activist warned yesterday.
Gina Spence said the photographs could also lead to someone else’s son being killed by mistake by people who wanted revenge for the killing of Taylor Grier last Friday.
Ms Spence said: “I am extremely concerned. If someone wants revenge, they are not going to call police.
“They are going to take it into their own hands, as has happened a lot recently.”
Mr Grier, 30, died after the pillion passenger on a bike shot at a group of people at the corner of Court and Elliot Streets in Hamilton on Friday night.
Police released an image from CCTV footage that showed the gunman opening fire yesterday in the hope witnesses would come forward.
But Ms Spence said: “I just feel that this has created another level of the possibility of retaliation.
“People want someone to pay. What are we trying to do — stop the violence or escalate it?”
Ms Spence, who was among the emergency responders team who attended the hospital after the shooting, added that the men in the footage resemble a lot of other young men.
She said it could lead to someone else’s son being killed because they were mistaken for the gunmen.
She added: “I, along with the rest of the community want the persons who committed these crimes to be caught and to go through the process of court.
“And if found guilty, whatever sentence is handed out, that is what it should be.”
Ms Spence, founder and CEO of community charity Gina Spence Productions, said police had taken the “whole court process out of the equation” by sharing the images.
Ms Spence, who received the photographs at least ten times on her phone yesterday, said it should have been accompanied by an explanation of what police wanted to achieve.
She added: “It’s just out there. I definitely felt that it could have been dealt with a bit better.
“Right now there is a lot of emotion, a lot of hurt people, a lot of angry people. If people are in a state of shock, you have to be very careful about what you put out in the community.”
Ms Spence also warned about the effect the images could have on the grieving family and friends of Mr Grier.
She added: “That footage is not something they need to be seeing over and over again.”
Ms Spence said the families of other victims had also called her about the footage.
She added: “This is the first time in Bermuda’s history that photos of alleged shooters have been sent out.”
Ms Spence said the families wanted to know why the images had been released in this case and why their loved ones “were not given the same expedience, the same exposure”.
She added that the footage was also traumatic for the families of other shooting victims, who were forced to relive what had happened to their relative every time they saw the pictures.
Ms Spence said: “It’s very disheartening.”
She added that more focus was needed on the root causes of the island’s problem with gun violence. Ms Spence said: “We have to be proactive, not reactive. I think we missed an opportunity during the last lull.
“A gun amnesty is something that could have been used to get guns off the street. I don’t think anyone wants to bury another son.”
The Bermuda Police Service was asked for comment but no response was received by press time.