First homicide of 2023 is daylight killing of Syrian businessman in botched robbery on DeSouza Road

The Police are investigating the country’s first known homicide for 2023 after reports that a Syrian businessman was shot dead at about 1 p.m. on Monday, May 22.

Reports say the 25-year-old man was shot in the head by a would-be robber, who had gone into the Pick N Mix Mart on DeSouza Road and held the cashier at gunpoint.

It is alleged that the deceased was in the Chicken Hub restaurant next door.  Hearing the commotion, he reportedly rushed into the Mart, where he allegedly was shot in the head at point-blank range.

The wounded man was rushed to the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre, where he was later pronounced dead.

Onlookers gathered on the scene as investigations were in progress.  However, officers had cordoned off the area with official yellow tape as it conducted the probe into the robbery gone bad.

It was only last Thursday, May 18, during the meeting of the Lower House of Parliament, that Prime Minister Gaston Browne boasted to MP Richard Lewis that there had been no murders for the year, and that Antigua and Barbuda is so much better off than other Caribbean countries with regard to crime.   

Meanwhile, residents reacted to the news of the broad daylight killing with shock and a great deal of sadness.  “I feel for them.  Their robberies always end up fatal,” one woman tells REAL News.  

She was referring to three past incidents in which robberies had turned into the murders of Syrian businessmen.  The last such incident took place at an eatery on Old Parham Road and had been preceded by a fatal shooting at a shwarma shop on Factory Road.   Some years before that, a similar killing had taken place in Radio Range.

Ironically, in April, another Syrian businessman was robbed – again in broad daylight – outside a bank in the busy Woods Mall.  In that instance, however, the victim is believed to have shot one of the two bandits, and the Police are still seeking information in that crime.

In the meantime, looking at the bigger crime picture, another woman tells our Newsroom she is tired of all the bad news coming out of Antigua and Barbuda.  

“Oh gosh, Jack! From one to the next!” she exclaims.  “The evil that is plaguing these 170 square miles is getting more and more serious and dangerous.  And its debt is being paid by constant death.”

The rise in violent crime across the region prompted a conference of Caribbean heads of government, recently, in Trinidad.  Residents expressed concern, at the time, that neither Prime Minister Gaston Browne nor a designate – not even the minister of public safety – represented Antigua and Barbuda at the event.