Antigua Police Step Up Security in Wake of Shooting

Jan 30th 09
By Louisa Beckett

In the week following the tragic shooting death of Capt. Drew Gollan, skipper of the 163-foot (49.8m) Perini Navi S/Y Perseus, the Royal Police Force of Antigua & Barbuda has moved quickly to investigate the crime and reassure the yachting community.

“The investigation is very intense. There have been numerous persons picked up for questioning,” said Neil Parker, deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations. “Things are moving along quite well. We are making progress.”

While Parker wouldn’t comment further on the investigation, the Antigua Sun newspaper reported on 29 January that the police were currently holding four people for questioning, a number that was confirmed by other police sources.

On 22 January, the Australian-born Capt. Gollan, 38, was walking home to his apartment with his girlfriend and their child after dinner at a restaurant in English Harbour when they were approached by a man armed with a gun who reportedly demanded their money and valuables. When the captain attempted to protect his family, he was shot in the chest and pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital.

A recent autopsy reportedly confirmed that Gollan died as a result of gunshot wounds to his heart and left lung.

The owner of Perseus reportedly is offering a reward of U.S. $20,000 for information leading to the capture and conviction of Gollan’s killer, who is still at large. The Antigua & Barbuda Marine Association also is raising money to be split between a reward and a fund to provide improved security for yachtsmen in the English Harbour and Falmouth areas. “We have around 15,000 dollars now, and we’ve only just started,” said John Duffy, president of the ABMA. For more information, visit www.abma.ag.

A peaceful march from English Harbour Football Field to Nelson’s Dockyard is scheduled to take place starting at 4 pm Sunday, Feb. 1, to honor and commemorate everyone whose lives have been lost or impacted by violent crime.

Emotions ran high throughout the Antiguan yachting community following the shooting, according to Duffy. However, the mass exodus of yachts from the island that many predicted has not materialized.

“As far as I’m aware, only five or six have left since the incident,” he said. “According to Immigration, all those who have left, apart from two, were scheduled to leave.” Duffy reported that the 147-foot (44.75m) Vitters sailing yacht Timoneer decided to boycott the island for a week in protest. Perseus’ relief skipper understandably also left with the yacht’s traumatized crew.

At the Antigua Yacht Club, where Perseus had been berthed, “A couple of yachts have left but it’s not necessarily related. It’s not as dramatic as everyone is saying,” said AYC Marina Manager Pete Simmonds. Although he lost a close friend in Drew Gollan, Simmonds believes, “This is an isolated incident on a back street in the dark.”

“While it’s sad and an extraordinary incident, and we treat it very seriously, I’m not aware of anything in recent history that has ever happened like this,” said Deputy Commissioner Parker. “People still come to Antigua because it’s a safe destination. Generally speaking, this is, if not the most safe destination in the Caribbean, then one of safest.”

Duffy said, “I think a lot of the skippers who were being very emotive at the first meeting [following the shooting]…when they sat down and thought about it, they were better off here than in many, many other places,” He added, “I think that probably as a direct result of this incident, it will become safer still, because there are so many measures being put in place to up security and increase safety.”

A more visible round-the-clock police presence is just one of the security initiatives seen in the Nelson’s Dockyard/English Harbour area in the days following the shooting. Some of these – such as increased staffing and training for Antigua’s reportedly chronically underfunded police force – already were in the works prior to Gollan’s death.

Parker provided a list of increased police security measures under way:

* The division commander, Inspector Mason, one of the most senior members of the Antigua & Barbuda Royal Police Force, has moved to the Dockyard police station and taken charge there.

* “We’ve increased our operational time to 24/7,” Parker said. The police station formerly closed at midnight.
* “We’ve increased the police manpower by 25 percent in that area,” he added. “We have augmented our foot patrols and mobile patrols in the ‘hotspots’.”
* The military has joined the police in forming a security task force. During “high risk” times of day, such as from sunset to sunrise, patrols now consist of police officers teamed with members of the Antigua & Barbuda Royal Defense Force.
* “We also have plainclothes police officers out and about in the high risk areas,” Parker said.
* The police narcotics unit has been deployed to do “stop and searches” in the area, enforcing Antigua’s policy of Zero Tolerance for drug abuse.
* Bars and restaurants that formerly stayed open until the wee hours are facing stricter regulation. “We have curtailed and pulled back the operating hours of the licensed establishments to the standard that was on their permit,” Parker said.

Police and government officials also are sitting down with community leaders to discuss implementing further security measures such as CCTV cameras, additional lighting and cutting back foliage in high risk areas. “Reducing the dark corners that people can hide in,” Duffy explained.

“We are really sorry that this had to happen,” commented Senior Sargeant William Holder of the Antigua & Barbuda Royal Police Force. “Please come on down and we will do all that is in our power to make sure you are safe and have a good time in Antigua and Barbuda.”

 



Related Hot Topics:

Captain Shot and Killed (23/01/2009)
Six Ways to Stay Safe Ashore (30/01/2009)






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9 Comments
  • It is well known that many yacht crew, unfortunatley, use drugs and the numbers have increased in recent years. One of the best ways to help fight crime in any area where yachts mecca would be not to partake in the use of drugs therefore you would not be supporting the drug industry which is undenialbly associated with many crimes like theft and muggings.
    Those of us who are truly yacht professionals who do not partake in the "illegal" use of drugs are appalled at the increased numbers of yacht crew who are drug users. This most certainly supports the crime in the areas where the yachts tend to mecca, no doubts.
    Note to captains: Conduct regular random drug tests on your crew - and I don't mean telling them that there will be a drug test on Wed next week - I mean no notice on the spot drug testing. Random drug testing will also sort out the drug using crew who have no place working onboard a yacht. Obviously any captain who would keep any crew onboard who tests positive is not doing his job. Random drug testing of crew will also help with fighting crime at ports that yachts mecca to. If the crew are not buying drugs from the locals then they are not supporting the drug culture of the area.
    This most certainly is one way in which we can help fight crime and it will also clean up our industry of the crew who want to continue to be "illegal" drug users and who obviously have no place onboard a professionally run yacht.
    If you want to "do your part in helping the matter". Don't continue to purchase or take illegal drugs. It's that simple.
    Posted by bridgewatch 02/02/2009 15:22:03

  • I reckon you guys should just STUFF IT! In the meantime we'll take our business to islands we feel a bit better about.
    Posted by ablonde 02/02/2009 08:49:56

  • and Blondie, While your reading you might come to the realization that it is your duty as a sailor, someone who has been given the freedom to roam the world, to understand the societies that you visit. If you want to open the window and look into Antiguan society I suggest that you read .... To Shoot Hard Labour, the Life and Times of Samuel Smith - an Antiguan Workingman, 1877-1982. written by K. Smith and published by Edan. It will make you smart.

    Gee, maybe your on your way to Croatia for summer. Best to not arrive ignorant. pick up... Croatia, A Nation Forged in War by Marcus Tanner. Then you can understand what you see with your eyes.
    Posted by monback 31/01/2009 11:11:33

  • Yes Blondie, I completely agree that you, as a yacht crew, should work hard to gain the respect of local Antiguans. Read this.

    http://www.caribank.org/titanweb/cdb/webcms.nsf/0/63EA7172A19A6608042573D00061C3B3/$File/AntBarbCPAMainReport.pdf

    And then on your next layover in Antigua take your personal drinking and parting budget, divide it in half, then take this bag of gold to any of the institutions mentioned in this review...I would suggest the local elementary school so they can buy books for the kids or the local old age home so that the seniors can live with some dignity. Then you will gain the respect of the locals. Its a very good start if your interested in better security around the ports.
    Posted by monback 31/01/2009 10:41:59

  • Gee whiz, sure am sorry that I talked "down to people." I am scratching my head here, trying to understand what you mean Mr.Monback.

    Solving this problem requires no less than a revolution, and not just on the island of Antigua. Look at the island, what does it have, a lot of nice beaches, limited agriculture and some very nice tourist accommodation. Oh, some cruise ship traffic. Now someone got it into his head to do the internet gambling thing but I am guessing that has pretty much collapsed... I hear that being a drug way station is working out for some people but that is very unstable.

    The only hope here is growing great coffee, chocolate or brains. Yes I said brains. The future is all about communication. Educate your children to be smart and develop communication systems AND create/build stuff too. But build/make the stuff really well. Sell it at a fair price. Engage people, give them the opportunity to earn the RESPECT they desire so much.

    In the meantime don't let your guard down ashore, travel in groups. Always be aware of your surroundings... And guys: keep an extra eye out for the ladies in your crew. Everyone should look out for each other ashore or on board.

    Do this and things might work out.
    Posted by ablonde 31/01/2009 09:12:24

  • Heartbreaking!!! What a wonderful, gorgeous, handsome man. He was smart, and fun, and had finally reached a level I am sure he had worked hard toward for many years. There are no words.
    38 years old!!!!!!!! Murdered at the hand of a man who likely didn't even know Australia is a country... the ignorant abyss of the Caribbean. Antigua (and all you other Carib nations) I challenge you to funnel all of your yacht dollars to education. That is the only thing that will make a dent in this problem. Oh, and stop planting marijuana in the cars of people when you have your "security" checkpoints. Sooner or later you will do it to the wrong yacht owner or crew person, or... people will just stop visiting your island for a long time, and see how you like that.
    Posted by ablonde 31/01/2009 00:28:20

  • Britain is the most watched nation on earth with one living in a "surveillance society". As Antigua is a former colony of the UK and in wake of this resent tragic event, I think it would fitting If the UK extended this courtesy and pumped a little money,training and equipment into the Antigua police force to improve the security around the superyacht area's (Falmouth Harbour to Nelsons Hbr including English Hbr) This would be a boost to "visual security" and would also "crack" down on all the snow that falls just around the corner from Mad Mongoose. J
    Posted by Capt_Chaos 30/01/2009 20:46:33

  • Antigua needs to address the drug-culture on the island. Drug dollars are a driving force for almost every nation's violent crimes and Antigua has a drug problem. It certainly does not help that yachties are some of their most reliable clients. This should be a call for crew to wake up because their "habits" invite these criminals right down to the docks and gives them a lucrative target for these crimes.Anyone who is buying drugs from yachts should feel a sense of shame if not responsibility over this tragedy.
    Posted by JakeG 30/01/2009 23:20:45

  • Well Blonde girl, lets just hope that you are not put into a negotiating position with the Antiguan authorities. You talk down to people, you have an Attitude. Perhaps you should review Antigua's 2008 budget, go ahead Google it, get to grips with the realities of a tiny country living on a very modest income. While reviewing this budget you will see that the authorities are very concerned about crime and have greatly increased spending, diverting precious resources away from education and welfare and brought in professional Canadian advisers to bring their practices up to standard. They know they have a problem. Now its up to you to realize that you are part of the problem and bring to the table positve suggestions.
    Posted by monback 31/01/2009 08:00:56

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