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Well-known politician shot dead while fleeing masked gunmen, Bahamas police say

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A well-known politician in the Bahamas was fatally shot on Wednesday during an armed robbery, police said. Two gunmen opened fire on a group of people outside of an unspecified business establishment in a neighborhood near Nassau, the capital city, but only one person was reported to have been killed. 

Don Saunders, a former parliamentarian and the deputy chairman of the Free National Movement Party, died at the scene late Wednesday, according to officials. He was 49.

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Don Saunders

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“It’s with a heavy heart that I report the shocking murder of our colleague and friend, FNM Dep. Chair Don Saunders,” wrote parliamentarian and FNM party leader Michael C. Pintard in a social media post. “We are still gathering all of the facts as we come to grips with this tragedy. On behalf of my wife Berlice and I, I extend my deepest sympathies to Don’s family.”

The Royal Bahamas Police Force said in a statement that the shooting occurred before 9 p.m. on Wednesday night in Gambier Village, a community just west Nassau. Their investigation is ongoing, but early reports indicate that the victim was seated outside the establishment with other patronts when two masked gunmen approached them and demanded cash.

“The patrons reportedly panicked and fled for refuge, and as a result, the perpetrators opened fire,” the police force wrote in a news release. They said the victim was shot in the upper torso and “showed no vital signs of life” by the time emergency medical services personnel arrived at the scene.

No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting. After they opened fire, the armed suspects stole the victim’s car, a gray 2014 Nissan, and fled the area, according to police.

Prime Minister Philip Davis posted a tribute on social media, saying he was “deeply saddened” by Saunders’ death/

Police have asked anyone with information related to the crime to report what they know to law enforcement. 

In January, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau issued a security alert for the Bahamas, citing ongoing violence. The embassy said there had been 18 murders in the capital city in just the first few weeks of the year, which had “occurred at all hours including in broad daylight on the streets.”

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