GRIEF turned to fury in Bain Town following the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old youth by a reserve officer on patrol in the area.
Police reinforcements, members of the media and residents were pelted with stones, a squad car was burnt to a shell, and a ZNS vehicle was severely damaged by people protesting the shooting.
Sharmoco Newbold, of King Street, was reportedly shot in the head while fleeing from police in the Hospital Lane and Meadow Street area at about midday on Saturday, according to eyewitnesses.
Family members reported that Mr Newbold and a group of other men were gambling in the area when they were approached by police. In their attempt to flee the scene, Mr Newbold was killed.
However when speaking to members of the press in Bain Town, Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade said officers were on patrol in the area of Hospital Lane and Meadow Street when they saw a young adult male with what “appeared to be a weapon in his possession.”
In his initial report, Mr Greenslade said when the armed officers approached the young man “shots rang out from both sides and a short while thereafter it was confirmed that a young adult male resident in the area was deceased.”
The Commissioner said he was called to the scene shortly after the shooting by officials who indicated that the community was “quite alarmed and very distressed as a result of a shooting.”
Mr Greenslade did not identify the shooting victim whom he admitted was member of his family.
Police confirmed that Mr Newbold, whose father is a police sergeant, was out on bail on charges of possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.
Eyewitnesses say the unrest that followed the shooting began when crime scene investigators were attempting to examine the body. The officers were pelted with rocks as they tried to carry out their work.
Reinforcements were then called to assist them, and it was reported the area remained calm until officials attempted to remove the body from the scene.
Rev C B Moss, pastor of Mount Olive Church and president of Bain and Grants Town Advancement Association, was present during the commotion and assisted police in their attempts to calm distressed residents.
Mr Moss said: “The community was pretty much calm until they were escorting the body from the scene to the hearse and someone, not in the immediate crowd, threw a stone over a building.
“Once that first stone landed, people scattered and they became tense. Then the other stones came. Once that started there was no stopping it. With pent-up emotions all you needed was one stone and that was a trigger. The person who threw it had no idea if and where it would land.”
All ranks and files of the police force stationed on the capital were deployed, and the area off Baillou Hill Road was cordoned off in an effort to establish control.
Mr Greenslade said: “We have had threats offered by some minority segments of the community. Where we perceived there was a distinct threat, we mobilised the SWAT team. We had a bad situation, a young Bahamian man lost his life. There is an investigation that is now in full steam and, of course, we’re going to have to allow the work to be done properly.”
Armed officers were said to have shown extreme restraint as they suffered the physical and verbal onslaught from trouble makers. In the mayhem, some residents tried to offer shelter to the police.
As officers ushered Mr Greenslade and others to safety, the patrol car, which was said to have been driven by the officers involved in the shooting, burst into flames.
Mr Greenslade said: “I don’t want to give the public the impression that we’ve got a situation that’s out of control and we can’t manage. That’s not what happened here. Tempers flared, it was a bad situation, you get a crowd, you get lots of people, you have misinformation and sometimes it gets a little unnerving.”
He added: “I offer no disrespect to the community of Bain Town. We had no riot, I want to be very clear in saying that to the public – no riot, nothing of that nature but a community that is very concerned, very distressed and I recognise as a law enforcement agency, we have a lot of work to do in Bain Town.”
On Saturday, Mr Greenslade indicated that a faction consisting of no more than five men were believed to be responsible for instigating the disturbance which involved hundreds of spectators in the Bain Town community.
Although confident that the fray had been brought under control by late afternoon, officers remained on heavy patrol within the Bain Town area this weekend.
Up to press time, the area was said to have remained peaceful, however an updated report could not be given by police.
Mr Greenslade added: “I want to appeal for calm, I want the members of the community in Bain Town to recognise that we understand them to be good people, hardworking people, hardworking citizens of this country and they have a right to answers.”