National Security Minister Steadroy Benjamin has given his first reaction to the recent citizen arrest of a man for allegedly stealing a vehicle.
The incident which went viral on social media shows a man who is reportedly the owner of the vehicle pointing a rifle to the back of the head of the alleged perpetrator while he laid on the ground.
Hanna Hourani, the Syrian businessman used what we now know to be an air rifle to detain the alleged auto thief who was seen driving a vehicle he claimed to be his.
The alleged perpetrator who is now in police custody along with an accomplice was later captured following the incident.
However Minister Benjamin said while he recognizes the rights for persons to institute citizen’s arrest, he was not completely satisfied in how it was done in this instance.
The Minister said since the incident, he has received numerous calls about the apparent growing gun culture in Antigua and Barbuda.
“A number of persons have called this particular office expressing concerns about what went viral around the country and the world with respect to an individual holding a rifle or what appears to be a rifle to the head of another. I want to make it clear that this country is a law abiding country and we do not have a gun culture hear in Antigua and Barbuda”, the Minister said.
Benjamin, who is also the Minister of Public Safety, said while persons might be eager to take the law into their hands when aggrieved, he strongly warns against similar styles of arrest from recurring as it does not portray a positive image of the country.
“This type of enthusiastic assistance to the police must not be continued. This is not something which we condone, persons holding guns on others, we are opposed to it, we don’t condone and trust that something of this nature does not recur,” he said.
The Minister then issued this final word of advice to the general public.
“I wish to all, that this country does not promulgate or condone vigilante justice as it appears to be to some. Just to make it clear, to all person who are concerned, that is not the ordinary course of behavior and that all residents in Antigua and Barbuda recognize that the security of the nation is in the hands of the police.” the National Security Minister noted.