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French Quarter blockade over after immediate measures taken

FQblokkadeFRENCH QUARTER—A five-hour blockade of the RN7 in French Quarter ended at 12:15pm Wednesday following an hour-long emergency meeting on site between Gendarmerie, Collectivité and Préfecture officials, to address the issue of 13 fires occurring in French Quarter in the same area during the last two months.

Residents were protesting the lack of security in the district and demanded accountability and assurance that decisive action would be taken to prevent more incidents.

It was decided to implement extra Gendarmerie and Territorial Police patrols in the affected area immediately. It also emerged that one of three minors held recently as suspects, admitted to lighting one of the fires. Files of other suspects will be reviewed by the Prosecutor to see if their cases warrant transfer to juvenile correctional facilities.

French Quarter District representative Steven Patrick indicated the family who lost their home in the fire on Tuesday has been put up in a guest house by the Collectivité until alternative accommodation can be found.

The family of eight that was evicted on September 11 during the first demonstration about the fires is due to be re-located from their temporary accommodation in French Quarter to French Cul-de-Sac today Wednesday, Patrick said. According to Patrick, one of the children from this family is the minor that has been charged.

Strong earthquake rocked Trinidad

triniearthquakePORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad--A 4.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Trinidad and Tobago early Thursday morning, but there have been no reports of injuries or damage.
  The tremor occurred around 3:49 am to the northwest of Trinidad, at a depth of 136 kilometeres, and was felt widely across the country. The coordinates were latitude 11.17 Norht and longitude 61.97 West.
  Residents flooded the UWI Seismic Research Centre (SRC) Facebook page with posts indicating they felt the tremor, with some indicating it was so strong that it woke them from sleep.
  While the SRC put the magnitude at 4.8 in its report on the event, it indicated the results were preliminary and may vary when additional data is processed. Other seismic monitoring agencies put the strength of the quake at between 5.0 and 5.1.
  Between Tuesday afternoon and Thursday five earthquakes with magnitudes between 3.8 and 4.1  were recorded northeast of Barbados by the SRC, but went widely unnoticed by residents.

Two robbers killed in botched attack on PanAmerican van

page1a120~ Robber fired first shot ~


CAY HILL--Two men who are said to have had a long history of brushes with the law were fatally shot when they ambushed a PanAmerican Protective Service money transport service van in Cay Hill early Tuesday morning.

Police spokesperson Chief Inspector Ricardo Henson told The Daily Herald that a third suspect, the getaway driver, had managed to escape in a heavily-tinted unidentified red vehicle.page5a120

A PanAmerican security official who flew in to the island immediately after the incident said the PanAmerican van had just driven out of the Executive Commercial Centre premises around 8:00am. The guard had closed the gate and was about to enter the money transfer vehicle when the robbers ran up to the truck in an ambush.

The armed, masked and gloved robbers were had been hiding in nearby bushes, which were blocked by a concrete wall, waiting for a time to ambush the guards. One of the armed bandits who were running toward the truck shot at the guard who was about to enter the truck, hitting him in the upper thigh, and proceeded to try to enter the PanAmerican van.

page5c120The trained PanAmerican officers responded quickly to stop the ambush, which resulted in the two robbers being fatally shot.

The PanAmerican security official said the incident had been a shock and a surprise to the workers who were about to start their day. One PanAmerican official said he had been on his way to work when he received a call that the company had been under attack. When he arrived on the scene the gruesome reality of the botched attack was clear.

When The Daily Herald arrived on the scene, the two bandits were still lying on the ground where they had fallen after being shot. One of the robbers had a gun still clutched in his hands. Both robbers had on long-sleeved hooded jackets with masks; both were wearing gloves. One of them was wearing a pair of blue medical surgical gloves. The mother of one of the bandit’s children reportedly works at a medical facility in Cay Hill.

The PanAmerican guard who was shot in the upper thigh was treated on the scene and transported to St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC), where he received further medical attention and then was released. His injury was not life-threatening.

PanAmerican commended the police for their quick response to the incident.


History of crime

Henson said police were aware of the two deceased robbers’ identities. He said they were “known” to authorities.

This newspaper understands that one of the deceased robbers, E.R., known by the alias “Salty,” from the group known as the Scary Movie gang, had been incarcerated for more than a decade for a number of serious robberies.

He was released from prison some months ago and allegedly was arrested for the Scotiabank robbery last year, but was released. He also was said to have been involved in several other bank robberies on the island.

The second deceased bandit is said to be known as “Denzel,” is believed to have been residing in the Cay Hill area and was said also to have had brushes with the law.

  Henson said authorities were still gathering information and interviewing persons about the incident, which he said was unfortunate.

The PanAmerican security official said the police had taken the company’s security tapes for review.


‘Doing our jobs’

The company’s security official said he wanted the public to know that the guards had been doing their job.

“We are doing a service for our client in the best secure way, but if you come to try to take things from us that belong to our clients, we have to protect it and protect ourselves as the laws says we should,” he said.

He said the guards who work with the company are hardworking citizens of the community who have families just like the robbers, but they go out and do an honest day’s work every day. They love their jobs and they execute them to the best of their abilities.

“We have to do our jobs and we were doing our jobs. We love the community, but we are able to and it’s part of our duty to defend ourselves,” he said.

This was the second time an attempt had been made to rob PanAmerican Protective Service in Dutch St. Maarten. The last time was 20 years ago and it was a minor incident. There also was an attempt to rob a PanAmerican Service in French St. Martin some 15 years ago.

The security official said that in light of this incident, the company’s guards would remain firm in an effort to be more secure in the execution of their duties in the future. He urged the public to cooperate, and when PanAmerican guards are at a location and ask them to kindly step aside, “This is for their own safety.” He said on many occasions when the guards are at a location and ask members of the public to wait for brief moments, many did not respond.

A psychologist will be having sessions with the PanAmerican guards who were directly involved in the incident as well as the entire staff today, Wednesday.

The company urges anyone with information on the third robber to share this information with police so that this case can be solved quickly.


Still safe

Chief Inspector Henson said that while some persons were questioning whether the country was a safe place because of these violent crimes, St. Maarten was still a very safe place. He said it was unfortunate that an incident like this could put St. Maarten in “a very bad” light.

He said violent incidents like the one on Tuesday were isolated and the people involved were “known” to authorities. He said persons should not be afraid, because St. Maarten is still safe.

‘We have a lost generation that we have to deal with’

PHILIPSBURG--Justice Minister Dennis Richardson on Tuesday weighed in on the crime situation in the country noting that St. Maarten seemed to be gripped by “a lost generation” that has to be dealt with.

His comments were in reaction to Tuesday’s incident in which two men who have had brushes with the law were fatally shot when they ambushed a PanAmerican Protective Service money transport service in Cay Hill. A third suspect, the getaway driver, managed to escape in a red vehicle (see related story).

In an invited comment Richardson, who took a brief break from a meeting he had been attending to respond to this newspaper’s questions, said figures show that there is not an increase in crime, but rather an increase in the violent nature of crimes being committed. He said the persons who are engaging in crime seem to be getting more violent.

“Yes, I am concerned because we have a lost generation that we have to deal with,” the minister said.

The minister said the necessary investigations need to be done into the case to see “what we are dealing with.”

Dennis says decision is being prepared on political situation

2_Dennis_Richardson_Minister_Justice_Deputy_Pime_MinisterPHILIPSBURG--Deputy Prime Minister Dennis Richardson said on Tuesday that a decision is being prepared on the current political situation.

Richardson was acting in that capacity yesterday as Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs was ill at home. Richardson declined to divulge details of the decision being prepared, but he said Gumbs was “very clear” on his position about not resigning and about wanting new elections to be held.

Richardson said also that the Council of Ministers had received a second advice on the matter, but he declined to say from whom the advice had been received and what the conclusions of the advice were. He said the Council would make these details available at a later stage via Gumbs.

Although a new majority has been formed in Parliament, which passed a no-confidence motion against the current Council of Ministers, members of the Gumbs Cabinet have refused so far to make their positions available to pave the way for the appointment of a new cabinet.

Governor Eugene Holiday made it clear on Monday that a new Government could be formed in St. Maarten based on the new majority in Parliament. He made his position known in a press release, after having concluded his consultations with parties on the recent political developments.

Holiday said that having reviewed the correspondence received and following completion of the consultations regarding the current political developments, he had informed parties that “there is no basis not to form a new Government based on the new majority in Parliament.”

He said members of the Gumbs cabinet had not yet made their positions available. He issued an appeal “to all stakeholders to do all that is necessary to maintain and protect the integrity of our constitutional democracy and to foster actions in keeping with our constitution based on the rule of law.”

Holiday said he had received a letter from Members of Parliament (MPs) Frans Richardson, Silvio Matser and Maurice Lake on September 30 informing him that they had withdrawn their support from the United People’s (UP) party-led coalition government.

He was informed just after noon on the same day that Parliament had passed a motion of no-confidence against the current Cabinet of Ministers. Holiday said that according to article 33, second paragraph, of the Constitution of St. Maarten, if a Minister no longer has the confidence of Parliament, he shall make his position available. “It is noted that thus far the ministers have not made their positions available to the Governor,” the release said.

Holiday also received a separate letter signed by the four members of the National Alliance fraction in Parliament, the Democratic Party (DP) fraction, the United St. Maarten Party (USP) fraction and MPs Matser and Lake signalling their willingness to form the next Government of St. Maarten. The letter included an attached Governing Accord signed by the eight MPs forming the new majority coalition.

Holiday said that following the motion of no confidence, the Council of Ministers had invoked article 59 of the Constitution and submitted to him a national decree to call for new elections and dissolve Parliament.

Governor Holiday held consultations with Gumbs, the leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament, the independent MPs, Chairman of Parliament Dr. Lloyd Richardson and the Vice-Chairperson of the Advisory Council between September 30 and October 5.

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