Youth shoots and wounds 2, traumatising 40 in central Nouméa
At 10.50 this morning, a 19-year-old started firing a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun into the street in central Nouméa (first in front of the Chamber of Commerce [CCI], on rue Verdun and then in front of the Marine Corail store on rue du Général Mangin). He shot and wounded a man and a woman and shattered glass wounded a third. Ten Chamber of Commerce employees were admitted by emergency services for psychological stress and another 30 witnesses were traumatised. The gun was apparently stolen and no alcohol or marijuana appears to have been involved.
The shooter was tackled by a citizen (and wounded by gunshot) and chased by others when he fled the scene, reportedly silent and scared. Ten minutes later the police showed up to block his getaway toward the bay we live just above.
The suspect had not gone far and put down his gun when he saw the police.
Meanwhile firemen tended to the victims as the ambulances did not appear for quite some time.
Right now, we don’t know the shooter’s motivations, though he is considered psychologically fragile and there is mention of family problems. With no previous convictions, he is in custody on charges of attempted homicide.
Such was the horror and shock Noumeá encountered this morning. Which made me think of the importation of arms here in New Caledonia (among other things).
Did you know (and this is not to frighten, but to inform you) that New Caledonia’s civilian small arms and ammunition importation has risen 559% since 1992? By comparison, civilian ammo and small arms importation has risen by 107% in Australia and 287% in the United States over the same period. This coincides with more lenient purchasing legislation in New Caledonia. The gun used today was a gun used for hunting (wild boar), which is the type of gun largely being imported here.
Tomorrow we’ll learn more about today’s shooting, its details, what the young man was thinking. I wonder if we’ll hear anything about stricter gun legislation. Something tells me we won’t. But Nouméa is shaken. Shaken enough to put two and two together? Troubled youth, unemployed youth, easy access to a wealth of guns …