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Happy Valley residents note uptick in violence

Shooting scene: police investigate after a firearms incident on Happy Valley Road in Pembroke

Householders on a Pembroke street affected by a gun attack said yesterday that violence in the area had increased.

One young mother said that she feared for the safety of her son and other children who walked through Happy Valley Road.

She added: “It frightens me because you just never know when these things can happen, especially with a young son.

“Sometimes I take my son out to the shop a little late in the day.

“I could’ve been walking around and that could’ve been my life or his life.

“I know I can’t shelter him for ever, but I just hope that he looks away when something like this happens.”

The woman said: “You do have a lot of families that run into the shop and a lot of children from middle school and primary school that just walk in.

“I just think it’s getting worse and worse. I’m not saying that the police are doing a bad job, but something’s not right.”

The 22-year-old added she heard what she later realised was gunfire after two men on a bike opened fire at a man on the street as she read to her four-year-old on Wednesday night.

She said: “At first I wasn’t too sure that it was a gunshot, I just heard a loud ‘pop, pop’ and wondered what it was.

“I didn’t think anything of it, but when my mom came home a little after 8.30pm, she said there were a lot of police cars in the area.”

The woman, who asked not to be named, added that she liked the area but increased violence had forced her to become more careful. She said: “It is a friendly neighbourhood, I just think the people who come up here make it unsafe.”

The woman added that Happy Valley Road bordered the home areas of gangs 42 and Parkside. She said: “This is where a lot of those boys hang out, so you just have to watch your company and who you hang around with.”

She added that Happy Valley Road had become more dangerous after the shooting murders of Haile Outerbridge and Rico Furbert in 2013.

The woman said that stabbings in the area had also increased.

Vance Hollis, 59, added that he saw the aftermath of the attack as he travelled home from work.

He said: “I saw the police cars outside of Belvin’s store and the first thing I thought was ‘I hope nobody robbed the shop’.

“My first instinct was to check on the workers in the shop. I talked to the store clerk because he’s pretty well known in the area, and we all look out for each other.”

Mr Hollis, who has lived in the area for almost 40 years, said that the violence had damaged the reputation of a good neighbourhood.

He explained: “It’s just unfortunate because it’s devaluing the houses around here and it’s always somebody on the outside coming in and creating a situation. I’ve been here for 37 years and I have no problems — it’s a close-knit area.

“Some people sit in the road but they’re usually in control of themselves. It’s when outsiders come in that we have a problem.”

Mr Hollis added that he worried about the attacks becoming more indiscriminate and that innocent people would be put at risk.

He said: “I fear the fact that these young men now decide to drive across and shoot in people’s houses when they don’t know who’s in there.

“It could be someone’s uncle, their auntie, their cousin — their mother could be in the house that they’re shooting in.

“They’re just being belligerent now, playing ‘cowboys and Indians’ on the back of somebody’s bike.

“I think that the police know who these people are, and it’s time to clamp down. It’s time for it to stop.”

The Pembroke shooting came just minutes after a similar incident in St Mary’s Road, Warwick, which happened about 7.45pm.

Two men on a motorbike opened fire on a man as he walked along the road.

A spokesman for the Bermuda Police Service said that no one was injured in either of the shootings and that two men had been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after an armed raid on a house in Happy Valley Road.

Police have appealed for witnesses to both incidents.

A spokesman said: “It is not known if both incidents are connected, making it important that anyone with information come forward to assist in catching the offenders.”