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Police shoot and arrest two suspects with gun

page1a120CUL DE SAC--Two men were shot in the legs by police while unsuccessfully attempting to escape from officers.

A report had been received that the occupants of a grey Kia with licence plate M4880 and a white Toyota Corolla with licence plate P or M 9240 had threatened someone with a firearm in St. Peters around 12:15pm Monday, a press release from the police confirmed.

When grey Kia was spotted by police on L.B. Scott Road, it was chased into the Cost-U-Less car park, where it was driven up to the bollards by the entrance to Rose's Lane, near the cricket field.

One of the two occupants pointed a gun at police officers, causing one of the officers to fire a single shot into the vehicle's side door. The men were forced to stop the vehicle by the bollards at the end of the car park. They then made off on foot towards the cricket field.

The police press release said the officers had chased the men who, whilst running, had pointed a gun at them. In response, the officers fired at the legs of the running men, resulting in both men sustaining gunshot wounds. Despite the wounds and despite having lost shoes, the men continued running, jumping over fences and through bushes, one of them dropping a firearm in the process.

At this point, the officers lost sight of the suspects. Shortly afterward, both suspects were found hiding behind a building near Dollar Store on L.B. Scott Road. The suspect B.D. (21) had gunshot wounds to his right leg and K.L. (25) had been shot in his left leg. Both suspects were arrested and treated by paramedics on the scene before being taken to St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) for further treatment.

Meanwhile, at the Cost-U-Less car park, uniformed officers, detectives and forensics officers dealt with the crime scene. A number of bullet shells were left in the car park, as well as on Rose's Lane. The suspect's shoes that had been lost during the chase were still there, as well as the firearm dropped by one of the suspects.

The scene was closed off for the Forensic Department to collect evidence. The firearm, a .45 calibre Glock, was confiscated for further investigation. Traffic in the area was diverted temporarily.

After treatment at SMMC, both suspects were released into police custody, where they will remain for further investigation.

"The Police Force is working with limited resources and sometimes under extreme conditions to rid the streets of illegal firearms and other criminal activity taking place on the island. The two arrests in this case would not have been as successful without the assistance of the community," the press release stated.

"The Police Force is encouraging the community to continue calling in and giving the police information regarding any crime or criminal activity."

Anyone who has any information about the occupants of the second vehicle involved, or indeed about anyone who is in possession of any illegal firearm, is requested to contact the police station or call the anonymous tip line 9300.

Public school teachers with perfect attendance receive financial award

~ Teachers lauded for work at WTD event ~

CAY HILL--Public school teachers with perfect attendance records during the last academic year were rewarded with a token of appreciation during the World Teacher's Day (WTD) ceremony at the Belair Community Center on Saturday evening.

The group of teachers were each presented with a cheque of NAf. 250 as well as a certificate of appreciation. World Teachers Day was Sunday, October 5, but the official ceremony for teachers was held on Saturday evening.

Presented with financial awards were five teachers from the Marie Geneieve de Weever School; three teachers from the Leonald Conner School (formerly Leonard Conner School); two teachers each from the Charles Leopold Bell School and the Ruby Labega School and one teacher each from the Oranje School and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School.

Head of Public Schools Glenderlyn Davis-Holiday said the award was intended to promote good attendance at schools. This is the second year the school is recognising teachers for attendance. Davis-Holiday urged teachers to see their jobs as a vocation and not just as an area to earn an income at the end of the month. "When you teach and when you love children, you reap the rewards," she said. "To teach is to love and to love teaching is a previous gift."

All teachers were lauded for their service in the classroom at the well-attended event, which brought together teachers from the various school boards. Several school boards plan to have separate events for its teachers.

Education Minister Patricia Lourens-Philip thanked teachers for the work that they do and the sacrifice they make on a daily basis as they go about doing their work. She said teachers sacrificed time, talent, family life, family finances and personal ambitions to help mould young minds in the classroom. Successful schools, she added, are run by good teachers and successful schools lead to a successful country.

She said the reception was held in honour of teachers and it gave all education partners – government, ministry, school boards and union – an opportunity to publicly acknowledge that to invest in a teacher is to invest in the future, as teachers touch the lives of every person as they develop as human beings.

Another motivation for the reception was as a result of the evaluation of last year's conference in which teachers said they wanted "something fun" to be held for this year's World Teachers Day. The fun was injected towards the end of Saturday night's WTD event with a cocktail reception and dancing to tunes provided by DJ Oswald.

Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) President Claire Elshot spoke about adequate remuneration for educators. She said the union had a "little warning" for educator regarding working without extra without monies. She said teachers need to give the best to students, but authorities also need to "keep up" with the remuneration to educators since many teachers go into their own pockets to purchase things for their classrooms. Her comments resulted in a loud round of applause from the capacity crowd.

Representatives of several school boards addressed attendees. Amongst them was Methodist Agogic Center (MAC) Director Rose Hughes-Coram, who thanked teachers for inspiring children to be the best that they can be, and urged them to continue planting seeds of knowledge in them. She said persons should think of teachers every day and the "very important" role that they have in preparing students for a world that they have not seen.

Heyliger weighs in on integrity report

PHILIPSBURG--United People's (UP) party leader Member of Parliament (MP) Theo Heyliger on Sunday issued a statement on the integrity report compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on instruction from Governor Eugene Holiday.

He said some were attempting to paint a picture of "an unwilling St. Maarten. Unwilling to address reported and alleged integrity issues highlighted in the report." He said, however, that it was important that "we" focus.

"I thought it was important to point out that contrary to the opinion of some, you cannot wave a magic wand and address every reported issue overnight. Comments emanating from the Netherlands would have you believe that St. Maarten could have solved or curtailed every instance of reported integrity issues the same week the PwC report was issued," he said in a statement.

"St. Maarten, in their opinion, should not be given the opportunity to address its own issues. St. Maarten, they imply, is not capable of doing this and requires that its hand be held," he said. He said the incoming government will seriously look at the findings of the integrity reports.

"In the same breath, the world should not expect our democratic government to set aside all forms of due process and legal frameworks and address these findings irresponsibly. Every branch of government, individual and instance that has been tagged by these reports must be looked at objectively. We also have to differentiate between conjecture and fact. We will hold true to democratic principles. We will not conduct ourselves as a radical and reckless mob or go on a witch hunt in order to satisfy ulterior motives," he said.

"The public discussions have given rise to a broad examination of the level of integrity and propriety that the public ought to expect from their government and government entities. It is a worthwhile discussion that should in time result in dispelling any mistrust the public might have of government, politicians and of the institutions that serve them if allegations prove to be true following the application of due process and the rule of law," he said.

He said rather than acknowledging that St. Maarten should be given the opportunity to right its own ship and that St. Maarten has already taken numerous steps to enhance integrity, voices from abroad know that nothing erodes trust faster than allegations of corruption. "Circumstances are often such that pretence and untruthfulness are more likely to promote their ends than honesty," he said.

He said integrity should be promoted throughout government. "The great majority of St. Maarten's public servants are good people dedicated to their jobs. That a few should so severely damage the hard won reputation of the whole public sector is deeply saddening."

He said the new government "will also be an open one. We have to finally dispel the thought that government promotes a culture of secrecy where information is scarce and only a few have access and benefit. Government must be open to all. Transparency promotes accountability and an open government promotes efficiency and participation to the benefit of every citizen."

In the meantime in a separate statement Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure Maurice Lake said he supports the implementation of the integrity report recommendations. "We got back the results from the two integrity reports and we just got to implement the recommendations from the two reports. We don't need the outside world to define us," he said in a release issued by the ministry's press secretary Roddy Heyliger.

Lake said the counterpart policy should not be feared adding that stakeholders should work together. "Annually we give out millions of guilders in scholarships and the country needs to get its return on the investment made. Our young people want to work and we should be able to provide them with work once they get the training for the position. They have nowhere else to go but here, and they should be able to find work at home," Lake said.

He reiterated earlier sentiments about raising the bar in parliament and in politics which he identified as one of his goals for the next four years.

Four injured in head-on collision

page1b119CAY HILL--Four occupants of two vehicles were seriously injured when their heads smashed into the windscreens or the airbags of the vehicles, as a result of a head-on collision in the early hours of Sunday.

Police patrols, paramedics and the fire department were sent to the crossing of A.J.C. Brouwers Road and Welgelegen Road around 5:15am following reports of a serious car accident, in which several people sustained severe injuries.

On the scene, the investigating officers encountered a head-on collision between two private vehicles with license plates P-7971 and P-9354. The impact of both vehicles left the two occupants of each vehicle seriously injured with numerous cuts to their faces, arms and legs.

It appeared a grey Hyundai, carrying two men, had come from the direction of Cole Bay at high speed, and had swerved into the path of the oncoming black Peugeot, carrying a man and a woman. Whilst the Peugeot had airbags, the Hyundai did not, causing its occupants to sustain even more serious injuries, with one of the men having two swollen eyes with shards of glass embedded in his skin.

A partly eaten hotdog and other food leftovers in the grey vehicle suggest that the driver may have been eating at the time of the collision.

All victims had been treated on the scene before being transported to St. Maarten Medical Center for further treatment. The exact cause of the traffic accident is still under investigation by the police traffic department.

Wanted suspect arrested with gun

MADAME ESTATE--A 26-year-old man was arrested for handling stolen goods and possession of a firearm, a police report states.

A Philipsburg police patrol was informed on Thursday, October 2, around 6:00pm that the man J.F., for whom an arrest warrant had been issued, had been seen driving a silver-coloured vehicle in the vicinity of Madame Estate.

The patrol managed to locate and arrest J.F., who is known by police to carry a firearm. When he saw officers approach, he jumped out of the car and made off on foot. The officers chased him through the Over the Pond area and arrested him on A.Th. Illidge Road after a short chase.

The suspect resisted strenuously during his arrest, but soon was placed in handcuffs. A .40 calibre pistol was found on his person during a search and was confiscated for further investigation. J.F. was taken to the Philipsburg police station where he remains in custody.

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