Editorial: His finest hour

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The details surrounding the capture of Calvin James are still coming in, but one thing is certain: former Superintendent of Police Colbert “Gaddaffi” Francis is a national hero, and richly deserving of our deepest gratitude and highest honour.

As a result of his quick thinking, great police training and execution, excellent street smarts and extraordinary courage, an alleged double-murder suspect is off the streets. Antiguans and Barbudans can rest easy.

All hail! “Burga” or “Exes”, as he was known to many, was a cunning man about town, easily recognisable by his ostentatious displays of “bling,” his gaudy and extravagant attire, his broad smile and bold swagger. At one time he was known to tool around St. John’s in a bright, hot-pink sports car.

Then something unimaginable happened on the morning of October 12 last year in Donovan’s when an orgy of violence erupted. After the smoke cleared two women lay dead of gunshot wounds, and a man was fighting for his life, shot in the face.

The alleged perpetrator, “Burga”, was on the run, and Antigua and Barbuda went into high-alert mode. The fear at the time was that the shooting suspect could return to further settle scores with those family members who’d escaped his initial rampage.

Indeed, with nothing to lose, the public shuddered at the thought of a chance mishap with a man who’d already allegedly carjacked two vehicles in his bid to escape the law. Needless to say, he was deemed by the authorities to be armed and extremely dangerous. Of course, as the days and weeks turned into months with no word on “Burga’s” whereabouts, the conventional wisdom was that he’d already fled the island, perhaps to the Dominican Republic or the Virgin Islands.

And our angst grew. Then came the major and long-awaited break in the case when heroic, eagle-eyed retired Police Superintendent Colbert “Gaddafi” Francis, while performing his private security tasks at Hermitage Bay, spotted the wanted man.

We may never know the adrenaline rush and the avalanche of thoughts that ran through the good superintendent’s mind. What we do know is that he remained cool and calm and was especially careful not to alert or agitate the suspect. When he finally made the move to detain “Burga”, any notion “Burga” might have entertained, albeit briefly, to fight or flee was too late.

He was caught flatfooted, and the rest is police lore. Based on our reporting (see headline in Tuesday’s DAILY OBSERVER), there is some discrepancy, at least in what the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda (RPFAB) initially reported on the capture of “Burga.” Apparently, there were some glaring omissions and a disturbing failure to “Give credit where credit is due,” according to former commissioner, Mr. Rawlston Pompey, who was quite irate.

This sin of omission also did not sit well with many other officers, and neither is it sitting well with us here at NEWSCO. In that regard, we are calling for the Government of Antigua and Barbuda or our Governor General or the RPFAB to immediately issue a citation or proclamation heralding the outstanding contribution of this good gentleman to our safety and the cause of justice.

We further submit his name to those who see about those matters for the nation’s highest award. He is a most deserving candidate. And what is more, he ought to be given the EC$25,000 reward for the capture of this alleged most dangerous suspect.

After all, not only did he provide the information as to “Burga’s” whereabouts, but he effected the arrest without any bloodshed. We need not remind the readership that Burga could have opted to go out in a blaze of gunfire and perverse glory, and we submit that Colbert “Gaddafi” Francis, with nary a thought for his own safety, placed his life on the line.

His brilliance and stoutness of heart saved the day. On behalf of Antiguans and Barbudans, and the grief stricken families, we say “Thanks, Sir!” This was your finest hour, and we certainly tip our hats to you!

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