June 14, 2006 – Two dozen people gathered Wednesday night at the site where two New York tourists were gunned down a year ago in order to remember them and to send the message that it's time for the Virgin Islands to provide security for its people and visitors.
Angela Rawlins, an employee of the Bunker Hill Guest House, who had met the New Yorkers – Tristan Charlier and Leon Roberts – hours before they were killed, said that when she met them, "They were happy They went out to enjoy our island."
Rawlins said, "It was amazing that two men who spent their whole lives together … died together," adding, "We don't want their deaths to be in vain."
That was the message also carried by Celia A. Carroll, executive director of the V.I. Chapter of Mothers Against Guns, whose son, Jason, was shot to death on Main Street May 23, 2000.
"We had guests in our land," Carroll said, "and they were murdered."
She said, "If we want people to come to the Virgin Islands, we need to treat them right."
Carroll said the government owes an apology to all the people who have been victims of crime in the Virgin Islands. "Those in authority need to apologize," Carroll said. "I hope this message goes out to the governor."
She added, "If we can't get help from our institutions, where can we go?"
Help and closure are what Samantha Roberts and Saman Dashti, the sister and brother of Leon and Tristan respectively, have sought this week as they have made the rounds of government offices. (See "Family Members of Murdered N.Y. Tourists Looking for Answers One Year Later").
On Wednesday night at the bus stop across from Frenchtown's Arturo Watlington Post Office, the pair asked for the assembled group to pray for justice for their dead brothers.
Dashti asked Rev. Utibe Esiet of the Kingdom Life Church to lead the group in a prayer for the witness in the case against the pair of brothers who are charged with the murders.
"Pray to help him get through the judicial process," Dashti said.
Roberts, fighting back tears, also asked for justice. She said seeing the murderers in jail for life would not bring back her brother, but she said it might just allow a "little sunshine" into a life that is full of dark clouds since her brother died. But even if justice is served, Roberts said, "this incident will always be fresh." She asked, "How do I move on?"
Dashti spoke of his brother as a "creator." He said Charlier was a producer, making music and Web sites, since he was young. He said the loss was not only for what his brother had been, but for "everything that person would have given to the world."
Rawlins reinforced Dashti's description of his brother, saying the e-mails she received from him before his arrival at her establishment were all interesting and creative.
One woman in attendance, Avis Blackman, said she had come to the informal gathering in part because she was a "community supporter" but more so because she is a mother. "I have one son," she said as her eyes filled with tears. She said losing him would be devastating. "It's the worst thing that could happen to anyone."
Dashti thanked all the people who had come out and those who have helped him this week and over the last year.
Dashti said of the community where he lost his brother: "We are together now. There is entanglement."
Also in attendance were Assistant Police Commissioner James McCall, crime victim advocate Leslye Webb and Ernest Bason, prosecutor with the Attorney General's office.
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