Governor convenes meeting to address machete attack

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Despite the success of the U.S. territories' response to COVID-19, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said they have been included in a High-Level Risk list rather than used as examples for states to follow. (PNC file photo)

Guam – In response to the machete incident near the University of Guam campus in Mangilao, Governor Lou Leon Guerrero called the heads of several GovGuam agencies and other community leaders on Wednesday to gather input on how such crimes could be prevented from happening in the community.

Leon Guerrero conducted the round table meeting in Adelup with Lieutenant Governor Josh Tenorio. Lawmakers were also at the table, including the legislative public safety committee chair, Senator Jose ‘Pedo’ Terlaje and Sen. Clynt Ridgell.

FSM Consul General Teresa Filepin, Chief of Police Steve Ignacio, and Mayors’ Council of Guam President Melissa Savares also attended the meeting along with several village mayors.

“There are lots of moving parts – like I said drug abuse, substance abuse, prevention, treatment there’s behavioral, social, economic, health reasons, dysfunctions of families, how to bring them together, education. It’s a very complicated situation to look at, but I’m very confident that the leaders are sensitive to that and we’ll work very closely together to start making leeway,” Leon Guerrero said.

Island leaders are planning to have village meetings, as an initial short-term solution to address crimes against the community, according to Savares.

“The first meeting will take place next week in Mangilao. We will get together with the FAS council and then set that up so they can let their community leaders know what time the meeting will be. Of course, we’ve also asked that business partners be there in the neighborhoods, somebody from the AG’s office, possibly even the courts, and other community partners,” Savares said.

Governor also commented on how the incident was reported in the media.

“I think the media blew it out of proportion,” Leon Guerrero said, adding, “As it develops as a developing story, there’s 4, 5, 6 people attacking cars, and the way I visualized it, there’s this gang of people just standing on the road, attacking cars. That’s how I visualized it.”

“I’mm not saying that we shouldn’t be alarmed, definitely be alarmed. That is why I asked for this meeting. I am alarmed. I am alarmed for the safety of those people. I am alarmed for the fact that this individual or these two individuals are known to the police. They are recurrent offenders. I am alarmed at the fact that maybe it’s a system dysfunction. There’s a lot of things that I am concerned about. There’s a lot of pieces that need to be addressed in order to make a whole kind of solution. But as a start, calling the leaders together I feel was the best way to do it,” Leon Guerrero added.

Meanwhile, the GPD Chief also shared his thoughts on the importance of disseminating information – of putting accuracy before timeliness.

“I wouldn’t say that it was necessarily blown out of proportion by the media…You know sometimes, people get information from others, and you know it’s third, fourth party information. You know, by the time they put it out and the media gets it, through these social media platforms, that’s what they initially report.”

“So of course, the job of the police is to respond, and you know sometimes, our response back to the media is slow because we want to make sure the information we provide to the media is accurate. It may not always be timely, but it is accurate,” Ignacio added.