Second main suspect in cop’s murder caught on Monday

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By The Daily Herald

~ Benjamin to be laid to rest Thurs ~

ST. PETERS–The second main suspect believed to have been involved in the robbery that led to the fatal shooting of bike patrol Police Officer Gamali “Benji” Benjamin was captured in St. Peters late Monday after a five-day manhunt by police.

Police spokesperson Chief Inspector Ricardo Henson confirmed to The Daily Herald yesterday evening that the second main suspect, a man, had been captured. “Yes, we caught him,” Henson told this newspaper when asked. He said he did not have any further details available at the time.

This newspaper understands that the suspect was amongst several persons detained. Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Karola van Nie, who said she could not provide any information when contacted last night, had told this newspaper earlier that authorities did not rule out that other persons were involved in the crime.

News of the capturing of the suspect led to many persons rejoicing on social media site Facebook, many indicating that the arrest of the suspect meant that justice now could take its course. “God is good,” one person wrote.

The slain officer will be laid to rest with full official honours this Thursday, August 13. The final details of the funeral were still being ironed out on Monday.

Chief of Police Peter de Witte noted that the funeral would include several key things such as two officers will always be standing guard at the head of Benjamin’s casket. The casket will be draped with the St. Maarten flag, which will be folded and given to the late officer’s family at the end of the funeral ceremony. Officers also will pay their respects with a special march.

The full details of the funeral are expected to be known today, Tuesday.

In the meantime, this newspaper has been reliably informed that suspect R.D., who was caught shortly after Benjamin’s shooting, is suspected of being the gunman in the officer’s shooting. This could not be confirmed by authorities. Van Nie said Monday that R.D. was still hospitalised.

In a statement on its Facebook Page earlier on Monday, the Police Force said that after it had requested the public’s help in capturing the second suspect, it had received many questions from the community. One primary question was why a picture of the suspect was not published.

The Police Force said, “Publishing a picture of a suspect is the ultimate effort, in judicial ways, to find a criminal suspect. Both the Police Force and the Prosecutor’s Office are here to protect all citizens of St. Maarten and not just the ones who act according to the standing values. Even in times like these, they have to work in a professional manner, although that’s difficult in a situation like this when a beloved and well-respected police officer died in the line of duty.”

Pictures of the two helmets left on the scene, the blue-and-white T-shirt that was left lying in the middle of Back Street and the scooter on which the suspects attempted to flee the scene of the Oro Diamante robbery were posted. In the post authorities urged persons who recognise any of the items to step forward and contact the investigating team at tel. 586-8052.

In the meantime, as the condolences messages continue to come in, the board and management of the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry (COCI) expressed support and strength to Benjamin’s family on Monday. “Our prayers are with the family as we join the entire St. Maarten community in prayer,” COCI said in a release. “May his soul rest in eternal peace.”