A Guyanese man was fatally shot during a fishing trip in the Florida Everglades on Wednesday, when he was the suspected victim of an accidental shooting.
A report in the Sun-Sentinel newspaper said Lawrence Ramdass, 46, was on a boat with his uncle and a family friend in the Holey Land Wildlife Management Area, about two miles west of US 27, near the Palm Beach Broward County Line, when there was a volley of gunfire.
Ramdass’ cousin, Sunita Moses, told the Sun-Sentinel in a telephone interview on Thursday that after the shooting began, Ramdass’ uncle and the family friend dove out of the boat. Shortly after, they found him shot in the boat.
Once the two other men got back in the boat, Moses added, Ramdass steered it back to land as paramedics headed to the area. He reportedly survived between 20 to 30 minutes but was dead by the time paramedics arrived.
Investigators attached to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, according to the report, indicated that the shooting may have been accidental.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Amy Moore said firing a gun, regardless of whether it is for hunting or target shooting, is allowed only during hunting season within the wildlife and conservation areas near Holey Land.
“If someone was out there target shooting, they were doing so illegally,” she was quoted as saying.
The next time shooting will be allowed in the wildlife management area and conservation areas is the next hunting season, which starts August 5.
Moore said wildlife officers regularly catch people shooting illegally and that signs placed by the agency are shot down. She also said it is common for her agency to find people shooting illegally.
“They think it’s unincorporated area but we’re out there,” Moore said. “We’ve been trying to educate people, but it’s been difficult with Florida being a high tourist area,” she added.
Meanwhile, Moses said Ramdass moved to the United States from Guyana in 1992 and had spent many years selling items at the Swap Shop. “I have so many cousins, but this one hits close to home,” Moses said. “He always made the point to touch base with everyone, so I can’t believe he’s not here.” A CBS4 report, posted on the Miami Herald website, quoted Ramdass’ cousin, Vineta Harnarine, as saying that his mother was devastated. “She’s just screaming all night,” Harnarine said. “She doesn’t want to live anymore. It’s such a great loss.”
She said the most important things for the close-knit family are to grieve together and to make sure the person who fired the shot that killed her cousin is held accountable.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, which is handling the investigation, has asked that anyone who was in the Holey Land Wildlife Area at the time of the shooting or who may know anything about the shooting to contact Palm Beach County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-TIPS.