It is indeed very sad and unprecedented in The Gambia that three Police-Intervention-Unit (PIU) personnel were shot last night, 12 September 2023, at the Sukuta-Jabang-Traffic-Lights junction, two male victims tragically lost their lives, while the third, a female officer, remains in critical but stable condition.
First and foremost, I wish to extend my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased, the members of the Gambia Police Force (GPF) to which they belonged, the government of The Gambia, and the entire Gambian community for this tragic incident that sent shockwaves across nations and continents.
May the souls of the victims rest in perfect peace, and I wish the injured female officer a swift and complete recovery.
Drawing conclusions about the circumstances of the crime and identifying the perpetrator may be premature at this stage, as eyewitnesses reported that the shooter hastily fled the scene before bystanders could apprehend him. The shooter even resorted to firing warning shots into the air to deter those attempting to detain him.
An unidentified writer, claiming to be an eyewitness, has also posted on social media that the shooter was a soldier, although no details were provided regarding how this identification was made; whether the shooter was in uniform, or whether he was a known soldier in the country wasn’t stated.
Nonetheless, the most crucial lead for investigators may potentially come from the female victim, provided she can coherently recount the events leading to the attack. There must have been some precipitating factor unless the shooter suddenly materialized and launched a surprise attack.
However, if the female victim is unable to communicate due to her injuries, the case may have to rely on the expertise of police forensic investigators, who could focus on ballistic and projectile analysis of the weapon used.
Based on the available evidence and eyewitness testimonies, it is evident that the perpetrator did not have the opportunity to gather the spent casings from the discharged rounds. The recovery of these casings can indeed assist in identifying the model of the weapon used in the incident.
In the context of security forces in The Gambia, which includes the GAF, the GPF, and foreign deployed units, the standard operational sidearm used is a semiautomatic 9mm handgun. Military officers, close protection police, and security guards for VIPs in the country all carry these handguns, often holstered, with maximum magazine capacities of 15 rounds. Even in the absence of the empty casings, forensic experts should be able to retrieve bullets from the victims’ bodies for ballistics analysis, that can also reveal the model of the weapon used.
If investigators can establish that the weapon originated from a semiautomatic 9mm handgun through ballistics analysis, it becomes crucial to trace all handguns issued to military and police personnel, as well as security guards. In normal procedures, these firearms are meticulously logged, with accompanying rounds meticulously recorded. Therefore, unit commanders should not encounter significant difficulties in tracking missing rounds assigned to individuals.
However, if it is determined that the perpetrator used a weapon not found in the inventory of the country’s security forces, and if the individual remains untraceable, it raises the alarming possibility of a dangerous, unidentified killer on the loose. In such a scenario, a nationwide manhunt for the culprit should be of utmost priority, with a substantial public reward offered for any information leading to their apprehension. Incidents of this nature pose a severe threat to our social and economic stability, and a reward of D150,000.00 could serve as a strong incentive for those who may possess crucial information about the culprit.
We can only hope and pray for the swift and safe capture of the perpetrator, with minimal risk and inconvenience. This contribution is intended to assist the dedicated investigators tasked with handling this case.
Retired Lt Colonel