An NAACP leader from Arlington, Virginia, has been identified as the American who was murdered over the weekend while vacationing in the Turks and Caicos, local authorities said.
Kent Carter was returning from a tour in a tour bus when the vehicle was ambushed by gang members who fired into the vehicle “indiscriminately,” police said. Carter was killed in the shooting on Sunday afternoon, along with a tour guide and one of the attackers.
“I believe the initial attack was targeted and carried out by armed gang members who act without conscience, who have no respect for life,” the archipelago’s police commissioner, Trevor Botting, said on Tuesday.
Responding police exchanged gunfire with the attackers, Botting said. Five others, including an officer and another American, were wounded in the attack and the ensuing shootout.
The attackers were armed with automatic weapons, Botting said. The commissioner did not say why the bus – as it was returning from a trip to Long Bay Beach – was specifically targeted.
Recent reports suggest that rising gang violence in the British overseas territory of 40,000 people has become a serious issue this year, with the UK providing 3 million pounds ($3.3 million) to recruit 24 anti-gang detectives to the island.
Back home, loved ones mourned the loss of Carter, who was a real estate agent, military veteran and father, people close to him told NBC Washington.
“Words alone are not enough to say how much it hurts, how sad we are right now,” Julius D. Spain, president of the NAACP branch where Carter served as vice president, told the news channel.
Robert York, Carter’s neighbor in Arlington, told Fox 5 he was a “great, upstanding guy” and “one of the best neighbors you could ever have.”
The government for Turks and Caicos, which relies heavily on tourism to sustain its economy, called Sunday’s incident a “rare” event that “does not reflect who we are as a people.”
“These criminals shot indiscriminately at the vehicle carrying officials and tourists,” Botting said. “We express our deepest condolences to the families of the murdered.”
The head of Turks and Caicos, Prime Minister Washington Misick, made it a point to assure potential visitors that his island territory is a safe vacation spot.
“TCI has long been established as a safe destination for visitors from around the world,” a statement from Misick read in part. “This is evident in the countless awards the destination has won, most recently at the World Travel Awards.”
Misick also clarified that Carter was not specifically targeted in the murder.
“On behalf of the government and people of these islands, we extend our condolences to the family and friends of the victim,” Misik said.