An NAACP leader from Arlington, Virginia, has been identified as the American who was gunned down over the weekend while he vacationed in Turks and Caicos, local authorities said.
Kent Carter was traveling back from an excursion on Sunday evening when his group was ambushed by gang members. The suspects, armed with automatic weapons, opened fire on the vehicle Carter was traveling in “indiscriminately,” authorities said.
“As a result of this attack, two persons were murdered,” police commissioner Trevor Botting said at a press briefing several hours later, “one from the local business and another being a tourist from the United States.”
Police also believe one of the gunmen was killed in the attack. After responding officers engaged in a shootout with the assailants, five others—including a police officer and an American—were noted as wounded.
Botting did not identify the victims, but the NAACP’s branch in Arlington, Virginia, said its vice president, Carter, had been killed in the attack.
“Words alone aren’t enough to say how much this hurts, how much we grieve right now,” Julius D. Spain, the branch’s president, told NBC Washington.
Spain told a Fox 5 reporter that he had spoken to Carter’s girlfriend, Alonia Williams, who said she was with him when he was fatally shot. The couple had been visiting the archipelago to celebrate his birthday, Williams said, adding that Carter had used his body to shield her in the attack.
Recent reports suggest surging gang violence in the British overseas territory of 40,000 people has become a serious issue this year, with the United Kingdom allocating £3 million ($3.3 million) to recruit 24 anti-gang detectives to the island.
Back home, loved ones have been mourning the loss of Carter, who was a real estate agent, military veteran, and father, people close to him told NBC Washington.
Robert York, Carter’s neighbor in Arlington, told Fox 5 that he was a “great, stand-up guy” and “one of the best neighbors you could have.”
The government for Turks and Caicos, which relies heavily on tourism to sustain its economy, called Sunday’s incident a “rare” occurrence that “does not reflect who we are as a people.”
“These criminals proceeded to indiscriminately shoot into the vehicle transporting the employees and tourists,” Botting said. “Our deepest condolences go out to the families of those murdered.”
The head of Turks and Caicos, Premier Washington Misick, made it a point to assure potential visitors that his island territory is a safe place to vacation.
“The TCI has long established itself as a safe destination for visitors from around the world,” a statement from Misick read in part. “Evidence of this can be seen in the countless awards the destination has won, most recently at the World Travel Awards.”
Though Botting initially said he believed Carter had been killed in a “targeted attack,” Misick clarified that Carter was not singled out specifically in the slaying.
“On behalf of the government and people of these islands, we extend our sympathies to the family and friends of the victim,” Misick said.
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