THA Bethel/Mt Irvine representative Pastor Terance Baynes says he is deeply concerned about the growing incidence of gun violence in Tobago. “While we can’t say definitively who bringing in the guns, the fact is that guns are accessible by these young people and there is a proliferation of gun-related incidents in some of the communities, Bethel being one.”
On Monday night, a gunman shot and killed Ryan Thornhill, 61, near Egypt Junction, Bethel. Three other men were also shot and are receiving medical attention at the Scarborough General Hospital.
Baynes said after the shooting, he learnt from some of the young men in the area that there has been several gun-related incidents in and around Bethel over the years.
“So, it seems as if guns are readily available and, of course, whenever there are altercations, people think that that is the way out. And I think it is because of the proliferation or availability.” He continued: “It is not that people don’t get angry but people respond to their anger in different ways and use whatever they think is available to them to get back at whoever they are angry at.” Baynes said young people must find positive ways to channel their anger and frustration.
He said he was concerned about the fact that anyone could just shoot at a group of people. “Even if we were to use the recent incident as a point of reference, some people don’t make sensible choices and decisions when they are angry. Fits of rage are like temporary insanity.
“So, it speaks to not only the recklessness and the violent mind but even the inability of people to have a cognitive response and to even consider the lives of other people.” Referring specifically to Bethel, Baynes said the area has some “generational issues” with respect to violence and delinquency.
“There has been no real intervention holistically and it requires a different kind of approach.” Baynes said he is going to do everything in his power to stop gun violence on the island. The new representative said he intends to launch a social initiative in Bethel aimed at reducing crime in the area.
On June 26, 2020, Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis launched a motivational initiative for young men living in disadvantaged communities. The initiative, Man Up, began in the villages of Argyle and Glamorgan, providing a forum for young men to air their grievances and concerns. On that occasion, Dennis said some young men need help coping with life’s challenges.
“As men, we all have to navigate this challenging and difficult journey of life. And it is harder for those who may not be as fortunate enough to enjoy some of the opportunities that are usually available to the young men in other sectors of the society.” On Thursday, Dennis told Newsday Man Up was put on hold owing to the covid19 pandemic. He said he has visited three communities – Argyle, Glamorgan and Charlotteville. “When we had the covid19 lockdown, it prevented gathering. But I prefer that it be a face to face interaction because of the targeted sector.
“So, as soon some level of gathering is permitted by law, I will resume those face to face interactions with the young men in the respective communities,” he said. Dennis said the turnout and interest in the initiative so far has been excellent.