Two men were shot to death on Tortola on Monday, police reported.
Tyrone Thomas, 30, of Greenland, was killed during the early hours of Monday morning in Brady Ghut, East End.
The shooting was reported to law enforcement at about 4 a.m., and Mr. Thomas was pronounced dead at the scene after his body was removed from the driver’s seat of his vehicle, police said.
A female passenger who was also in the car was wounded during the incident, and as of Monday night was receiving treatment for gunshot wounds at Peebles Hospital, according to Police Information Officer Diane Drayton. She was reported to be in stable condition.
A few hours after the first homicide, another man — Kareem Ettienne, 24 — was shot and killed inside his home on Fahie Hill at about 10 p.m. No one else was injured in the second shooting, police reported.
On Tuesday, Ms. Drayton said detectives “have not ruled out” that the two homicides could be connected in some way, and that officers are “keeping all lines of inquiry open.”
One unidentified man was reported to be “assisting detectives” with the investigation into Mr. Thomas’s death, but police have not said if anyone has been charged in relation to either killing.
Shocked family members, friends and politicians posted tributes to the two men on social media this week.
Mr. Ettienne, known by many as “Burg” or “Burga,” was remembered as a caring father and talented athlete. The BVI Rugby Football Union wrote on Facebook that Mr. Ettienne had been a long-time member of the team and was “one of our own.”
“He was a fantastic player who gave all he had on the pitch and was a true friend to us all,” the team wrote, saying that Mr. Ettienne had competed internationally many times and inspired young men to get into rugby. “He was also a good teammate off the pitch, helping out those new to the sport with insight on his experiences coming through the BVI RFU youth development programme.”
Others remembered watching Mr. Ettienne mature from a teenager into a father.
“A true player, teammate, friend and family man,” Roan Thornton wrote. “He emulated what it meant to be a father and a rugby player. Burger, you will be sorely missed.”
Mr. Thomas was also remembered for his role within the local community. Natalio “Sowande Uhuru” Wheatley, the president of the Virgin Islands Party, gave his condolences in a Facebook post to Mr. Thomas’s family and friends, adding that his cousin was the woman injured in the shooting.
“This morning I am saddened by the news of yet another murder here in the Virgin Islands and yet another murder here in the Seventh District,” he wrote. “Violent crime robs our community of our security, peace of mind, and, most importantly, our loved ones.”
Mr. Thomas and Mr. Ettienne are the fifth and sixth homicide victims in the Virgin Islands this year.
Jerry Castro, 25, was shot and killed near OneMart in Purcell Estate in August. Michael Stevens, Clevaughn Sweeney and Trumayne Daway were also killed in two separate shootings earlier in the year.
The six homicides follow a spate of gun-related deaths in 2017. Ten people in total were killed last year, compared to roughly two to four killings that typically take place in the territory annually. The last particularly deadly year was 2008, when nine people were reportedly murdered.
This week, police again urged the public for any information about the most recent killings.
“We are very open to any lines of inquiry that could shed light on why these young men had to lose their lives in such a tragic way in less than 24 hours of each other,” Joe Goff, who works on the Major Crime Team, said in a police press release. “They are both well known in their circle of influence and therefore we expect many to know the circumstances, the contributing factors and even the perpetrators of these homicides. We are interested in any information that can help us to quickly bring about arrests in these cases.”
Residents can contact the Major Crime Team at 368-5682 or 368-9342.