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Commissioner commends bravery of off-duty officer

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A firearms incident occurred at Divots Bar and Grill in Warwick (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

An investigation is “progressing well” after a gunman fled the scene where an off-duty policeman tried to apprehend him, police announced yesterday.

Commissioner of Police Darrin Simons said he was hopeful an arrest would be made “fairly quickly”.

Both Mr Simons and Michael Weeks, the national security minister, praised the officer who intervened after a gunman entered Divots Bar and Grill in Warwick on Tuesday.

The aftermath of a firearms incident at Divots Bar and Grill in Warwick (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The restaurant, which adjoins the Belmont Hills golf course, caters to “families, athletes and small gatherings”, according to its website.

No one was injured, and a gun was subsequently recovered.

The incident, shortly after 1pm, was described by a member of the public as an attempted shooting.

Mr Simons said it was “not appropriate” to give details on anyone who might have been an intended target. He also thanked people who had come forward.

He said: “I cannot sufficiently stress how important it is for you to work with your police service to combat this kind of behaviour which puts all our lives at risk.”

The Commissioner added: “On the question of risk, not long after yesterday’s incident, individuals began sharing a video clip and an image of the off-duty police officer, who attempted to apprehend the suspect.

“Sharing that video clip and image could quite possibly put the safety and wellbeing of both that officer and those other persons present at risk.

“What’s more, it could negatively impact the investigation by revealing information which investigators would not want publicised.”

He emphasised that no police were involved in the release of the footage, adding that those responsible had expressed regret.

A firearms incident occurred at Divots Bar and Grill in Warwick (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Mr Simons commended the off-duty officer at the scene, saying he was grateful for his “brave actions” in response to the intruder.

He said the recovery of the weapon would advance the investigation and “significantly reduce future harm in the country”.

He warned the public against facing off against an armed assailant.

Mr Simons said: “I should also make the point that the preservation of life and property must always remain our main objective.

“Thus, I wish to advise the public that should you find yourself faced with a similar situation, you should always take actions that maximise your safety and avoid confrontation with the perpetrator.”

The Commissioner conceded the sharing of images could generate interest in a case.

“But right now, during the course of an investigation, pre-trial, it is not particularly helpful.”

Mr Simons added it could be “purely insensitive” to victims, and leak information about the scene known only to those present, including perpetrators.

He warned that leaks could hamper court causes, adding: “If identity becomes an issue, the fact that someone’s image has absolutely been put on blast taints potential witnesses around that.”

The incident at Divots came after an attempted shooting on Sunday evening in Hamilton, near the junction of Court Street and Elliott Street.

Mr Simons could not speak to whether the incidents were believed to be linked.

“Every time there is either a discharge of a firearm or shells recovered, we run it against a ballistics database, like fingerprints for firearms.”

Mr Weeks also voiced concern over the island’s second gun-related incident in “only a few days”.

The minister added: “I want to express my thanks to the off duty police officer who took action at the scene yesterday afternoon, which led to the recovery of a firearm.”

He said he had been briefed by police on both attempted shootings.

Mr Weeks underscored the harm caused by sharing footage of crimes.

“I recognise the speed that social media platforms like WhatsApp can deliver news in an island community as small as ours.

“However, I urge everyone that if you receive a copy of CCTV footage showing a crime, I urge you not to share it, but delete it immediately.

“We live in a world where someone being recognised on a video clip on your phone can put someone’s safety at risk.

“We do not need people taking action in the form of forwarding gossip and viral videos. We need people to step up to share critical information with the police so that the perpetrators can be apprehended.

“I can say it in no simpler terms than this – a blind eye turned away today can result in loss of life tomorrow. If you know something, say something.”