The National Cultural Foundation (NCF) has sought to play down the Kadooment Day shooting on Spring Garden Highway, which took the life of one man and injured 18 others, with NCF boss Cranston Browne referring to it as a “lil’ nuisance”.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the presentation of a Nissan X-Trail to calypso monarch Ian iWEB Webster at Courtesy Garage Ltd, Browne said the festival was “incident free and enjoyable up till the very end”, a reference to the shooting.
In any event, he said, the mass causality event did not happen during the Grand Kadooment parade, but when everything was coming to an end.
“So we had completed the route, all the bands had reached Spring Garden and everything, but that’s a ‘lil’ nuisance in terms of what happened, and again we would like to offer sympathies to the one that died,” he said.
Gunshots exploded during the street parade on Monday August 7, sending revellers and onlookers scampering for safety, sulliing the festival and leaving 20-year-old Taried Junior Rock of 3rd Avenue, Chapman Lane, St Michael dead, and 18 others nursing injuries, one of them a six-year-old child, who was grazed by a bullet.
Three St Michael men – Elijah Akeem Copeland, 17, of Chase Gap, Halls Road; Raheem Akeem Grimes, 22, of Chadderton Road, Carrington Village; and Tristan Soneil Alleyne, 22, of Parris Gap, Westbury Road – have been charged in connection with the shooting and were yesterday remanded to HMP Dodds.
Browne today said the NCF took security seriously and had worked closely with the Royal Barbados Police Force to increase security for both Foreday Morning and Grand Kadooment.
Despite the violence which marred the final day of the festival, the NCF boss said Crop Over was a success.
“Crop Over festival 2017 was very successful, we had good numbers coming into the events and it was incident free and enjoyable up till the very end and we are looking forward for a great 2018,” he said.
The Kadooment Day shooting had caught the attention of concerned tourism officials, who moved quickly to assure the travelling public that Barbados was still a safe destination.
Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) William Billy Griffith had told Barbados TODAY that while the shooting was regrettable, Barbados remained a very safe place for a holiday.
“The shooting incident was unfortunate and BTMI will communicate to all partners and stakeholders to reaffirm that Barbados continues to be a safe destination for locals and visitors alike,” Griffith had said.
Another tourism official, who did not want to be identified, also told Barbados TODAY the entire country should be concerned about the shooting, although it was an unusual occurrence.
“We believe the Royal Barbados Police Force are quite capable of handling the lawless elements in the country and we expect that will continue. Barbados is a very civilized country and we intend to keep it that way,” he said.
“It is a very unusual occurrence and I hope it never happens again. That sort of thing is not good for tourism,” the official added.
The shooting was part of a growing trend of gun crimes, which has claimed all but four of the 25 lives lost to violence so far this year.
The high crime level has left the private sector on edge, with President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry Eddy Abed recently describing the situation as “extremely worrisome”, while warning that it did not augur well for business, or the tourism industry.
“It [the rising crime] is extremely worrisome. The Barbados Police Force is doing a good job by and large, but it clearly is at a point now where businesses need to take necessary precautions to protect themselves,” he had told Barbados TODAY.
“So we would strongly suggest that people consider putting guards on their premises and putting in CCTV in their premises and more importantly work with the authorities to make sure we could get better lighting, especially in the areas like Bridgetown where one expects a high volume of foot traffic and going later into the evening. This is extremely worrisome. There is no way to soft sell this,” Abed stressed.