British journalists working on the Bahamas daily The Tribune found themselves in the news when a cops-and-robbers gunfight broke out in their office car park, leaving a young constable dead with bullet wounds to the chest.
Managing editor John Marquis, former editor of Packet Newspapers in Cornwall, and business editor Neil Hartnell, both Brits, had just left The Tribune’s office for the night when 27 rounds were exchanged between a police patrol and a group of men who had been acting suspiciously.
The constable was hit four times in the chest and fell dead behind a metal container in the car park. One man was arrested at the scene and three others were picked up later.
The shootout left bullet holes in the office walls and spent cartridges on the road outside The Tribune’s office in central Nassau.
The incident was a dramatic end to a dramatic year for The Tribune, which in February attracted international attention by publishing two page one pictures of the Bahamas immigration minister on a bed embracing cover girl Anna Nicole Smith.
The pictures forced the minister to resign, even though he denied wrongdoing, and the ruling Progressive Liberal Party collapsed at the polls three months later.
Three public protests were staged outside The Tribune’s office calling for Marquis’s deportation, with placards describing him as a ‘journalistic terrorist’.
These followed a year-long face-off between Marquis and the government during which his work permit was deferred pending a Labour Department inquiry.
The veteran editor, a former West Country newspaper editor and London sports editor, as well as a published author, said 2007 had been a vintage news year for his 104-year-old paper, which has been at the centre of most social and political developments in the Bahamas since its launch in 1903.
“I have always said that Nassau is the best news town in the world outside of a war zone,” he told holdthefrontpage.
“However, with the murder rate this year standing at a record 79 in a country of only 300,000 people, and a hostile political climate like the one we have had to endure over the past year, there are times when I think it is a war zone.”
But he added that the Bahamas was still among the greatest places on earth, and one of the most stimulating journalistic environments.
John has been in newspapers for 42 years, having started on the Northampton Chronicle and Echo in 1961.
He also worked for the Nottingham Evening Post before enjoying his first stint in the Bahamas during the 1960s, when he was political reporter on both the Nassau Guardian and The Tribune.
Apart from he and Cornishman Neil Hartnell, two other British journalists work at The Tribune – production editor Jason Donald from Glasgow and former Wolverhampton Express and Star journalist Marcus Day, the copy editor, who recently joined the paper from The Royal Gazette in Bermuda.