Motive for murder that sparked cycle of shootings is still a mystery
It seemed to come out of the blue but the “cowardly” murder of Kenwandee Robinson on May 22, 2009 had its roots in a long-standing feud between rival Pembroke gangs.
The bad blood between members of so-called 42nd Street or “42” and Parkside had festered for years but there had not been a fatal shooting in Bermuda since Shaki Crockwell was killed in Devonshire in August 2007.
Detective Chief Inspector Nicholas Pedro told
The Royal Gazette the exact motive for Mr Robinson’s murder as he sat on a chair in broad daylight on St Monica’s Road had yet to be established more than two years on.
But he said Mr Robinson, known as “Wheels”, was considered a 42 member by police and his slaying was “absolutely” linked to the gang warfare that has seen 15 men killed since.
“It was Wheels Robinson that really, in terms of the tit-for-tat cycle of shootings that we have experienced over the last two years, was the first shooting that sparked this whole cycle off.
“We don’t know [why he was shot]. There is nothing definitive that points to any one point that starts gangs off. We know the rival gangs sell drugs but we know they also have personal encounters between individual members of the gangs that have prompted violent responses.
“Unfortunately, the way the gang culture works is that ‘your enemy is my enemy’. If Man A has a dispute with Man B, Man C may very well take revenge on Man A on behalf of Man B.”
The officer, who is leading the murder inquiry, said Mr Robinson “certainly associated with members of the 42 gang and certainly hung out and congregated in that area that we would consider a 42 area”.
The 27-year-old’s relatives insist he was not in a gang and focused most of his energies on raising his toddler son La’Naiye, though he did hang out on occasion with lifelong friends in the St Monica’s Road area.
Det Ch Insp Pedro said officers investigating the death found that Mr Robinson, who was living with his girlfriend and child in Paget at the time, was well-known and well-loved in the Pembroke neighbourhood where he grew up.
“Wheels was an incredibly popular person, actually, in the St Monica’s area: much loved by many people, a popular and well-liked figure up in that neighbourhood.
“I say that as distinct from some of the other people we have had [as murder victims]. He seems to be almost genuinely revered by people in the neighbourhood.”
Mr Robinson’s best friend Michael (Mikey) Adams was also shot during the attack on May 22, 2009, when two brown-skinned men wearing dark, full-face helmet visors rode past on a red, white and black motorcycle.
The pillion passenger sprayed bullets directly at them as they sat on chairs outside the government prefabs opposite St Monica’s Church, with Mr Adams going down first and then getting up to try to help his dying friend.
A total of five men were arrested in connection with the incident and all were bailed pending further inquiries.
Mr Adams, 26, has since recovered from his injuries and is understood to have left Bermuda.
He gave a brief statement to police, as did other witnesses, but officers have yet to gather sufficient evidence to charge anyone with murder.
They are still looking for the .40 calibre weapon which was used to shoot both men and which has since been linked to at least two other subsequent murders of men with 42 links.
Det Ch Insp Pedro said: “The challenge with all these types of crimes is the cowardly manner in which they are conducted. Two men on a bike at speed, masked-up, shoot directly and they are gone.
“The challenge of this case is that we are left with limited evidence with which to work.”
He said police had to deal with a “degree of apathy” from the public in relation to coming forward with information about Mr Robinson’s murder.
“You have to remember that a lot of things have changed since this murder happened, even though it’s a relatively short time ago.
“At the time, we were faced with people that considered talking to the police snitching, rather than helping the community to get dangerous people off the streets. That continues to be a challenge for us.”
He is convinced members of the community know who carried out the May 22, 2009 double shooting and know where to find the gun that was used but said: “They haven’t come forward to let us get it off the streets.”
The senior officer said the appeal for witnesses continued, with his team keen to talk to “anyone who may have seen two people on that bike in that area”.
“There are people out there who may not have witnessed [the shootings] but may have information or evidence that could help bring two very dangerous offenders to justice.”
l Part two of our series on Bermuda’s unsolved gang murders will appear in The Royal Gazette on Tuesday, September 6, when we’ll focus on the December 2009 shooting of 22-year-old Garry Cann.