Vicious circle: Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva speaks with Bermuda Sun reporter Simon Jones about the difficulties of gang involvement in Bermuda. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
Vicious circle: Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva speaks with Bermuda Sun reporter Simon Jones about the difficulties of gang involvement in Bermuda. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead

A new generation of gangster has emerged from four years of gunfire, bloodshed and deadly rivalry in Bermuda, according to the Police Commissioner.

Michael DeSilva says the “second generation” gang members that carry out most of the shootings now don’t even know what they are fighting for because they have no reference point.

Mr DeSilva told the Bermuda Sun there remained a “remarkably small number of core gangsters in Bermuda capable of pulling the trigger”.

He said:   “We refer to this new generation of gangster as version 2.0.

“The moment we started seeing names pop up that we had not seen before showed us there was a new generation of people entering the gangs.

Danger

“And the shocking part was that their first offence and the first time we were alerted to them was around gun crime. There was no escalation in offending. They just came in at the top level.”

Mr DeSilva added: “There is a very real danger that these young guys do not really know what they are fighting for.

“They have no frame of reference to compare to. 

They won’t remember the days when people would just hang out on the wall and not engage in any kind of criminal activity or contemplate someone driving up and shooting at them.

“Their current day state of affairs is the only thing they have.

“And the more entrenched it is in their psyche the more difficult it is to take them out of it.”

In the last four years detectives have dealt with 25 fatal shootings and 65 firearms incidents where victims have suffered gun wounds.

So far in 2013 there have been three fatal shootings and five injury shootings compared to the seven deaths and 29 injury shootings in 2010.

The drop has been caused by natural attrition within the gangs as members are either killed, brought to justice or leave Bermuda altogether, according to Mr DeSilva. But he warns the underlying current of gang tension, which is sparked by perceived signs of disrespect between rivals and the need to retaliate, is very much alive on the island.

He said: “Gangs are still being highly territorial and highly retaliatory.

“To some extent we are still dealing with the same problem that erupted in 2009.

“A couple of years ago we said that there were around 300 people involved in Bermuda’s gangs. But the actual number of gang members caught up in the shootings and firearm felony crimes is a fraction of that total.

“There is a core group of gangsters capable of pulling the trigger and it is a remarkably small number.”

Mr DeSilva added: “We have long advocated making a determined effort to start fresh at the front end. Unless we do that we can not protect the next generation of potential gang members, then in five years time we will be facing the same threat.”