Elvis's Loveshack was shot and killed early this morning. His girlfriend and their teenage son were also shot, but will hopefully recover (see article). You'll note that I took down my Crime Page a while ago. It just got too depressing (try documenting all the crimes in your home town). While we knew quite a few of the folks who were affected by theft and vandalism, we hadn't known any of the 34 people who had been killed. Until now. This is when the size of the island matters. Sure there were 532 murders in NYC in 2010, but with a population of just over 8 million, the chances of a fellow city slicker knowing any one of those people were statistically nil. Not to take away from those people's importance, if you had known them it would have been devastating, but you can see why most New Yorkers can just go on with their lives and just hope it doesn't happen to them. Again, statistically speaking, it probably won't. But when you've only got about 50,000 people in your population, having almost 3 dozen murders in one year is going to affect everybody. Michael's staff were attending funerals way too often last year. This year, we've already had 2 murders and this latest one finally touched home.
Elvis was a fun guy who was open to just about anything and was easy with a smile. He mainly catered to university students, probably because they were the only ones willing to hang out on that side of The Strip. He let us do Zumba classes on the beach and always waved as I walked or ran past his place. What a damn shame. Again.
His death will get lost in the debate once again of whether St. Kitts is safe enough to visit and where people should or should not go if they do visit. Once again, people who thought about visiting might reconsider; cruise ship passengers might now stay onboard; others might stay huddled in their hotels. In other words, they'll over-react. What has happened to all the victims on this island sucks and will continue to suck as long as it continues, but I will repeat that crimes against tourists are a rarity and millions of people have visited and had a great time. The worst thing you could do is pull your support from the island when it needs it most. Plus you'll ruin your own vacation and miss an opportunity to meet great people.
Even before this happened, Ross students had been being advised by university officials not to go to The Strip, which I thought and still think was unreasonable. Many students who agreed with me ignored this advice, befriended Elvis, and made a great friend in the process. That said, the murder of someone you know is pretty scary, especially when you're far away from home. We'll continue to go to The Strip. Why should the criminals win and the other area business owners suffer for what, so far, has been an isolated event? Besides, I'm sure security will be beefed up in the area (if not by the police, then by Ross - Update: No increased security - we didn't see any patrols at all last night anywhere on The Strip - sigh).
I think it's important to keep things in perspective, but I also think that if the police commissioner (who lives nearby a professor who got held up in front of his own apartment a few weeks ago) doesn't get this under control there will be terrible repercussions beyond what the poor families of these victims are experiencing. For the most part, only the most violent attacks are reported in the media. You hardly ever hear of the hundreds of less violent offenses occurring to residents here all year (there was no report on the safe invasion at a popular institution last week was there? nor the professor's robbery for that matter); but if everyone's a victim at some point or another, word gets out, no? Worse than an inept police force and judicial system is anyone harboring these criminals. If anyone knows anything about any of these crimes, step up. St. Kitts is just getting its feet wet in the world of investment (by businesses and developments) and literally can't afford this violence. Your silence will not only lead to the death of others (and maybe even you or someone you love), but this island's future as well. Care.
Goodbye Elvis - you will be missed.
A quick update. We did go to the 5:30pm meet-up the students hastily put together this evening to give Elvis a proper good-bye. There was quite a respectable crowd:
They were gathering stuff for a bonfire when we left. Sigh.
Members of the Ross student council want to have a bash next Saturday (Feb 4th) at the Loveshack to include drinks, BBQ, and volleyball. They would like to raise money for Elvis's funeral and to help his wounded family out. They're looking for any sponsorships for the gathering (Carib, Rams, etc.) and any contributions from those who can make them. If you want to help come on Saturday or let us know (we have the organizer's phone #). Once we have times and any other details, I'll put them on my calendar.