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Bahamas probes immigration officer’s shooting of Haitian man

June 10, 2015

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — Authorities said Wednesday they are investigating the shooting of a Haitian migrant by an immigration officer as tensions between law enforcement and migrant communities grow in the Bahamas.

Officials say the man is in serious condition after being shot in the face on Tuesday. The shooting occurred as police rounded up migrants believed to be living illegally on Eleuthera island.

Police accuse the man of trying to disarm the officer, while eye witnesses claim he was running away when he was shot.

Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell declined to comment on the case but said his department was investigating.

Police have not identified the man, but family members identified him as 27-year-old Jean-Mary Justilien, according to Solivia Fox, president of the Central Eleuthera Haitian Bahamian Association.

She said the shooting follows weeks of apprehension exercises on the island.

“I have no problem with them rounding them off, but I think it must be the right procedures,” Fox said. “Don’t shoot them. I need answers for that.”

Migrants have long traveled to the Bahamas in an effort to reach the United States, but they also have increasingly settled in the island chain just east of Florida in recent years.

In response, the Bahamas has stepped up maritime patrols and imposed new restrictions on work permits in the past year.

Mitchell said last week that more than 2,000 migrants have been repatriated since November, noting that 79 percent of them were Haitian.

Update hourly