Atlantis Increases Security With Ban

Tuesday, 03 November 2009 07:56 News Editor

Responding to the shootings that left two Paradise Island security guards in hospital Saturday night, Atlantis executive George Markantonis announced yesterday that the resort intends to impose a ban on unsupervised minors on weekends.

The ban, which is expected to come into effect soon, is just one of the measures the resort is taking in response to the shooting. According to police, the guards were shot at point-blank range near Atlantis' popular Marina Village, a cluster of restaurants and shops.

On weekends, scores, if not hundreds, of teenagers — many of them unsupervised — use the area as a hangout.

"Certainly [the shooting] raised concern from our point of view and we intend to do something about it, and we do not intend to let it happen again," said Markantonis, president and managing director of Kerzner International Bahamas.

"It's a huge challenge for us. It doesn't just concern me as a professional, it also concerns me as a parent. You would be surprised how many people drop off their children here and leave the island. Marina Village is really not a teen sitting service for parents," said Markantonis, who was speaking at a press conference at the resort.

He added: "It is something that we have to address. We tried to be as open-minded as we could over the years, but obviously we're not going to wait until someone loses their life before we make a decision. We're not going to allow unsupervised teenage and young children to be able to access either the hotel property or Marina Village on weekend nights. It's as simple as that."

Markantonis said only minors who are accompanied by adults will be allowed entrance into the resort or Marina Village.

While plans haven't been fully worked out, Markantonis added that security personnel would begin to control all of the access points into the resort and Marina Village.

"The way I look at it is if my kids go and do something and it's because I was not around to supervise them, I am responsible. And there is no excuse for parents to put the onus on Atlantis to police their children on weekends. We will come up with a plan. If you are a hotel guest and you are here with your parents, aunts and uncles, you are welcome to enjoy the facilities. If you're not, you're not entering our facilities."

According to police, on Saturday around 10 p.m., two security officers attached to the Atlantis Security Department were on routine patrol at Marina Village when they observed two young men acting suspiciously.

The officers reportedly initially confronted these individuals and after interrogating them, asked them to leave.

"It was at this point that they attempted to escort these males off the property, when one of them reportedly produced a handgun and fired on both officers," a police statement said.

Troy Feast, 33, received a single gunshot wound and Dwayne DeCosta, 46, who is also a police reservist, received multiple gunshot wounds, according to police.

The shooting took place in the exterior part of Marina Village near the Dock Masters Office.

The suspects — a 19-year-old male of Dolphin Drive and a 17-year-old male of Collins Avenue — were arrested, police said.

They are expected to be charged later this week.

Markantonis said the fact that so many minors were allowed to roam around without supervision, was trouble waiting to happen.

"If you think about it, it was two senior officers who were shot but it could've easily been some other teenager or young children that were shot," he said.

Markantonis said both victims were recovering.

He said Feast was released from hospital yesterday and DeCosta could be released within the next week.

"So perhaps we escaped a very serious situation," Markantonis said. "We as a community escaped a very serious situation."

He added that while the situation is unfortunate, the resort hasn't received any fallout so far.

"We're keeping tabs on that," he added. "Obviously it's very important for us to stick to the facts, which I've tried to do... And so we don't expect a fallout. In fact, I think we showed that in the eventuality of a crisis our teams are quite capable of moving very fast and acting professionally."

But Director General of Tourism Vernice Walkine told The Nassau Guardian the shooting is likely to negatively impact the county's tourism sector in general.

"Anytime anything like this occurs it affects our image and our reputation," she said.

Asked whether the ministry was doing any damage control, she said, "That's really a matter for [the Ministry of] National Security and the police. Obviously we support their efforts all the time but that's obviously a police matter that we're not able to affect in any material way."

She added that the Ministry of Tourism is monitoring the international media to see whether they pick up on the stories carried by the local media.

"But any time [such incidents] occur, we are concerned," Walkine said.

Source: The Nassau Guardian