A Northern Virginia NAACP leader was shot dead Sunday while vacationing in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Local police said Kent Carter, vice president of the NAACP’s Arlington branch, was killed when gang members opened fire on a vehicle in which Carter and other visitors had been touring the island.
Carter had been visiting the Turks and Caicos Islands to celebrate his 40th birthday. In a tweet, NAACP Arlington said it mourned Carter’s “tragic and unexpected loss.”
Notification of Loss – NAACP Arlington Branch mourns the tragic and unexpected loss of our 1st Vice President, Kent Carter, who passed away Sunday, October 2, 2022, while vacationing abroad. pic.twitter.com/0kehwl0nYJ
— NAACP Arlington Branch (@NaacpVa) October 5, 2022
Julius Spain, president of the Arlington branch of the NAACP, said Carter was in the Turks and Caicos for an extended weekend to celebrate his 40th birthday with his longtime girlfriend, an airline employee, who was in the vehicle at the time of the shooting.
“Kent was actually a hero,” Spain said, “because his girlfriend stated to me and many others that he jumped on her when he started hearing gunfire and covered her.”
Spain said Carter’s time in the Army, which included combat, probably had something to do with that impulse, but added, “I would expect nothing less than that from Kent, because that’s the type of person he is.”
Spain said Carter’s girlfriend was not injured.
Carter and his companion were returning Sunday afternoon from a jet-ski outing when their vehicle was attacked.
“The driver was taking them back to the Ritz Carlton, which was only five minutes away. On the way back, someone drove by, a gang or whoever, and shot up the vehicle,” Spain said.
Spain said that in the past decade Carter made a lasting impression on the Arlington County community.
“This has really shocked our branch and so many folks in Arlington because Kent is not only well liked; he’s well loved,” Spain said. “He’s done so much in our community, in philanthropy and working in volunteerism — it’s just really tough,” Spain said.
‘We extend our sympathies’
Trevor Botting, the British overseas territory’s police commissioner, blamed gang violence for the shooting that killed Carter and a local tour guide.
“I believe the original attack was targeted and carried out by armed gang members who act without conscience, who have no regard for life and who are hellbent on causing indiscriminate harm and misery,” Botting said Monday. “This violence, we know, is linked to drug supply and is fueled by revenge, turf wars and retribution.”
Botting said tour guides and visitors, including Carter, were heading back from an excursion when they came under fire from “armed criminals” in another vehicle, killing Carter and a member of a local business.
An officer with the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force was seriously wounded in a gunfight while attempting to intercept the shooters’ car before it escaped. Images shared on Facebook showed a police vehicle’s windshield riddled with bullet holes.
A suspect was later found dead after the shootout with police. Five other people were injured.
“The incident which occurred on the date mentioned above is one that is rare and does not reflect who we are as a people,” the Turks and Caicos government said in a statement.
“On behalf of the government and people of these islands, we extend our sympathies to the family and friends of the victim.”