By NAN Travel Editor
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. July 31, 2017: A Caribbean island that was earlier this year declared the fastest-growing tourist destination in the region is dealing with a global PR nightmare after two tourists to the island were shot in just over one month.
The Turks & Caicos’ Ministry of Tourism has been forced to issue two press releases in just over one month, condemning the shooting of two American tourists in the Grace Bay area of the British Caribbean territory. The government is urging residents “who have information on any crime in our islands to report it immediately to law enforcement via Crime Stoppers.”
The latest shooting involved a D.C. attorney who was vacationing of the island and was shot in the late evening of July 28th by masked gunmen during an armed burglary.
Michael Jones, 57, a partner of the law firm Kirkland & Ellis and an adjunct professor of Law at Georgetown University, is now recovering in a South Florida hospital where he was evacuated after being shot in the arm inside his private villa.
Commissioner of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force, James Smith, told ABC News that investigators believe at least two suspects forcibly entered the private villa intending to rob the property. The villa was secured with an alarm system and a security guard, whom police later found had been “lightly bound” at the scene with his own shoe laces, Smith said.
At least one of the suspects was confronted by Jones inside the home and then a shot was fired. The suspects reportedly fled the scene after with a laptop and remain at large.
Jones was named a Leading Lawyer and was selected as one of the top 10 business litigation attorneys in Washington, D.C. by Legal Times. In addition, he has been featured by The National Law Journal in its feature, “Winning: Successful Strategies From 10 of the Nation’s Leading Litigators.” Jones served as law clerk in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and was the Notes and Comments Editor for the Georgetown Law Journal.
The Ministry of Tourism called the incident regrettable and said the country “will not be intimidated by acts of cowardice.”
But it also urged visitors to “exercise vigilance as we seek to restore the Turks and Caicos Islands that you have come to know and love.”
The attack on Jones was the second on an American tourist in just over a month. Alabama native Kevin Newman was on vacation in Turks and Caicos with his wife Tiffany Newman and son Gavin Newman when he was shot during a robbery on June 23rd. He also had to be airlifted to a Broward County Hospital for treatment after being place in a medically induced coma. A bullet struck Newman’s inferior vena cava, right kidney vein, and exited his body through his back, his wife, Tiffany Newman said in July.
Newman has since returned home to Alabama after being discharged earlier this month. His family and friends raised over US$25,000 on Go Fund Me to help with his medical expenses.
According to the Caribbean Tourism Organization, stopovers to the Turks and Caicos Islands grew by a robust 17.5 percent in 2016 totaling 453,612 arrivals when compared to 385,531 arrivals in 2015.