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Police name Southampton murder victim

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Prince Barrington Edness, 29, a self-described gang leader, was yesterday named by Police as the victim in Sunday night's fatal shooting outside a South Avenue, Southampton, residence.

The two gunmen on a motorcycle also fired at an unarmed police officer, disabling his Police Jeep as they fled the scene. The car was hit near the Waterlot area of Middle Road, Southampton. The officer was not injured.

The search continues for the two assailants, who killed Mr Edness just 15 days after he was acquitted of premeditated murder.

Acting Police Commissioner Paul Wright said the murder bore “all the hallmarks of being gang related”.

According to Acting Assistant Police Commissioner James Howard, the victim was believed to have had a verbal altercation with his killers just before the shooting, which occurred at about 8.30pm. Residents reported hearing shouts, then gunfire, followed by a motorcycle leaving the area.

Police said the victim was believed to have attended a football match between Dandy Town and North Village at St John's Field, Pembroke, several hours before the shooting.

Western Stars Sports Club President Wayne Campbell, though, claimed the victim had not attended the game.

Police are keen to hear from anyone who knew of Mr Edness's movements from about 4pm on Sunday.

Mr Wright praised the officer who was fired upon as showing “great courage and a determination to do everything in his power to help in making Bermuda safer”.

Police have confronted guns before, he noted: Omari Gordon shot at Police in 2008, and Allan Daniels fired at officers in 2004.

Armed Police have been present on Bermuda's streets around the clock for the past six years, he said, and if confronted, “they will neutralise that threat by appropriate means, up to and including lethal force”.

“None of us want to go that way,” Mr Wright added.

Expressing sympathy to the victim's family, Police nonetheless described Mr Edness as “a self-confessed gang leader”. Asked if he believed the murder would set off an escalation of gun violence, Mr Wright said: “Coming from where we have come from since May 2009 when gun violence escalated, it's fair to say that tit-for-tat violence is a very real phenomenon. We guard against that.”

He continued: “There is always a concern whenever this type of incident happens that we have not seen the last of it. But you can rest assured that we have well trained investigators and forensic officers who will get to the bottom of it.”

He also cautioned that the indiscriminate firing of weapons in a public place “puts everyone at risk, including your own loved ones”, but pointed out that Police are seeing a 75 per cent conviction rate when they bring this type of case to court.

Mr Edness had been the victim of gun violence before: he was injured in a shooting in August 2008 and again in August 2010. He was jailed in 2011 after being found guilty of assaulting and threatening a cousin whom he accused of having links to a rival gang.

Most recently, Mr Edness had been found not guilty of the premeditated murder of Jason Lightbourne in a high-profile Supreme Court case in which authorities mustered an unusually intense level of security.

During that trial, Mr Edness staunchly denied any gang involvement — but he had been repeatedly identified by Police as a prominent member of a Hamilton gang.

He told the court that while he had dealt cannabis from an early age, he had kept away from gang involvement, testifying: “When it comes to any crew or any gang or posse, it's always those who get involved in beef, conflicts, then people who deal with business. I've always stayed away from beef. It's always been about business, always been about making money.”

The two-week trial, which closed on November 21, produced a unanimous not-guilty verdict. A jubilant Mr Edness exited Hamilton Police Station celebrating his freedom.

While Police were not specifically aware of his life being in danger, Mr Howard conceded that if persons style themselves as a gang leader “then there are actions of violence that will take place”.

However, Police sharply condemned the sharing of pictures of the crime scene, as well as taunting comments posted on social media that distressed friends and family of the victim.

The officer who had been fired upon — who was unavailable for comment yesterday — was commended by Governor George Fergusson.

Mr Fergusson said the compound firearm incident brought the Island nearer to danger. “Last night's incident saw the sad and unnecessary death of yet another young man, followed by an attack on a Police officer doing his duty on behalf of the whole community — in a real sense, an attack on the community,” Mr Fergusson said.

“I know that the all too regular appeals by a Governor for people to pass information can sound routine or even hollow.

“But the double nature of last night's attacks — a murder and a direct and dangerous attack on the Police — takes us nearer to a line that no sane person in this Island wants to go to.

“So I do directly ask anyone with any useful information to contact the police or the confidential and independent Crime Stoppers hotline. And I would like to commend a particularly brave Police Officer for his courage and skill.”

Area MP Zane DeSilva meanwhile called the murder “reprehensible”, condemning it in “the strongest terms”.

“We further extend condolences to the family of the victim and encourage witnesses to provide full assistance to the Bermuda Police Service,” Mr DeSilva said. “Bermudians deserve to know that their communities are safe for themselves and their children. Gun violence strikes at the very heart of our community and must be stopped.”

The murder of Mr Edness marks the second fatal shooting of this year, since the April 23 killing of Erin Lee Richardson, also 29.

Anyone living in the area of the shooting who may have noticed persons behaving suspiciously, particularly in the Sunnyside Park area, is asked to call the Serious Crime Unit at 247-1739, or to use the confidential Crime Stoppers hotline on 800-8477.

Prince Edness
Acting Police Commissioner Paul Wright and James Howard, the Acting Assistant Commissioner, address the media in the wake of Sunday's shooting (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Police and forensic photographers investigate the scene of the shooting in Southampton that claimed the life of Prince Edness on Sunday (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)

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Published December 09, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated December 09, 2014 at 8:38 am)

Police name Southampton murder victim

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