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Murder inquiry launched after off-duty prison officer killed breaking up a fight

Daemon Bell, who was killed after trying to break up a fight (Photograph supplied)

Police have launched a murder investigation in the wake of an off-duty prison officer dying after he tried to break up a fight between two men on Wednesday.

Daemon Bell, 49, from Hamilton Parish, stepped in to break up the scuffle near Shelly Bay Field at about 4.30pm.

But Mr Bell suffered head injuries as he tried to act as peacemaker.

He was rushed by ambulance to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital but died later.

A 46-year-old-man has been arrested in connection with the incident.

Mr Bell’s widow, Shawnette Bell, said today that her husband, who had worked for the prison service for 18 years, was calm and level-headed by nature.

A sobbing Mrs Bell told The Royal Gazette: “I think he was like that through his job.

“He would always try and defuse a situation, always look to see how to make the best of a situation.

“For him to go and try and break up a fight, that was just so typical of him. That was the kind of man he was.”

Mrs Bell added that her husband, who had also served in the Royal Bermuda Regiment, always gained the respect of inmates at Westgate, the Prison Farm and The Co-Ed Facility, both St George’s.

She said: “They would soon learn to respect him and appreciate him while they were in prison, and then when they were out, if ever they saw him, they would come over and thank him.”

Mr Bell, who has a 13-year-old daughter, lived with his family in the Crawl area of Hamilton Parish.

His mother, Florence, who died last November, had also lived with the Bells.

Mrs Bell said: “Daemon was such a family-oriented person. Our daughter was his life, she was the world to him.

“My daughter understands what’s happened. At first she thought it was a prank, so I had to explain that I had gone to see Daddy, and that he was cold, and that when I asked him to wake up, he wouldn’t wake up.

“So she understands what’s happened, but is still asking questions.”

Mrs Bell posted on her Facebook page last night: “What a cowardly act.”

The post attracted hundreds of comments from family and friends who offered prayers and commiserations.

Renée Ming, the Minister for National Security, condemned the killing.

She said: “First of all, I would like to let his family know that they are in my thoughts and my prayers – his immediate family, his friends and his work family.

“It is a very unfortunate tragedy. There is not much I can say at this time. It’s under police investigation, which has to run its course.

“As you’re aware, this is an active murder investigation, so I am just appealing to any witnesses or people with information – if you know something, say something.

“Reach out to the Bermuda Police Service. There is the confidential CrimeStoppers number and people can also call 211 to help.”

Michael Dunkley, the shadow national security minister, said Mr Bell’s death was a tragedy.

He added: “The One Bermuda Alliance extends our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the deceased man who tragically succumbed to injuries sustained in a fight yesterday afternoon.

“Violence has no place in our society but very sadly once again it has rocked our community, taken a life and crushed a family.”

Mr Dunkley said: “We can and must do better than this and a good start is to bring the offender to justice, so if you have any information please bring it to the attention of the Bermuda Police Service.”

Anyone with information that could help the police inquiry should contact Acting Sergeant Seymour Foote of the Criminal Investigations Unit on 247-1744.