Without a doubt, our Guam Police Department has many hardworking men and women who try to give their best despite the lack of personnel and aging equipment.
We do, however, need to call out GPD for its lack of communication in a recent urgent public safety issue. GPD's chain of command must find the time to gather the information that can be shared immediately to the public in matters of urgent public safety. The community needs to be made aware of an incident to ensure we all are informed and able to take necessary precautions. The information would be proper encouragement to all of us residents to take precautions when we're out driving on the streets.
We are talking about the shooting of a 27-year-old woman along Route 15 before dawn on Wednesday.
The woman, Katarina Pitto, whom family members said is often relied upon to help out friends and family, was on the road at close to 2 a.m. The 27-year-old, who is pregnant, had just picked up a cousin who needed a ride home after working a shift at a fast-food restaurant in Dededo.
Family suspects act of random violence
They were driving back home and were in Mangilao along Route 15 when shots rang out.
Pitto was shot several times, including in the face, by someone in a car that had been behind her car.
By her family's account, Pitto – a stay-at-home expectant mom who was taking time off from school, and is from a migrant family from Chuuk – didn't have enemies that would prompt such a violent attack.
Neither Pitto nor her cousin recognized the vehicle of the shooter.
Pitto's aunt, Concepcion Alpin, told The Guam Daily Post that the family believes the shooting was a random act of violence.
Even when this was still an early suspicion or possibility that Pitto was the victim of a random shooter in the dark, on Route 15, we feel that GPD could have done better by sharing this information with the public sooner.
No statement of public safety
While GPD might have been concerned with causing unnecessary panic, that concern should ultimately be overridden by the public's right to know there could be a random shooter out on the streets who could pose a threat to our safety.
Around 8 p.m. on Wednesday, nearly 18 hours after the shooting, the Guam media did receive a news release from GPD that a 27-year-old woman was injured in a shooting and remained hospitalized, but there was no mention of a possible random shooter for the public to be wary of.
GPD did state more information would be provided to the public as it becomes available. As of 5 p.m. Thursday, no new information that would inform residents of a possible threat to public safety had been provided by GPD.
The police department has the statement of Pitto's cousin, who said neither she nor her wounded cousin recognized the suspect's car.
Pitto managed to keep on driving until she was nearly home.
She remains hospitalized at Guam Memorial Hospital, recovering from six gunshot wounds, and is awaiting further surgery that may require doctors to deliver her baby prematurely, three months ahead of her due date.
The victim's family does have a plea.
"If you are a good person then turn yourself in," said Alpin.
GPD has asked the community for assistance in solving the case.
Anyone who saw the incident or heard information about it is asked to call GPD dispatchers at 472-8911 or 475-8615-7.