US Embassy Barbados: Death of RSO George Gaines “Unnatural,” Investigation Ongoing

On May 13, we posted here about the reported death of George Gaines, the Regional Security Officer at the US Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados.  Over the weekend, we have also sent an email to the Public Affairs Officer of US Embassy Barbados and to the Royal Barbados Police Force. As of this writing, the embassy has not acknowledged nor responded to our query.  Neither the embassy nor the State Department has released an official statement on Mr. Gaines’ death.

The Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) did confirm to us via email on May 14 that it is investigating the death of Mr. Gaines.  RBPF says that under Barbados laws, this death is being treated as unnatural and a Coroner’s Inquest will be held in the future to determine whether or not it was a suicide.  The Police also confirmed that a firearm was found at the scene and the body had a wound to the head.

Below is one of the last official photos we can locate of George Gaines, as one of the crew members of the Lancelot II during the Round Barbados Race in January 2012:

Crew of the Lancelot II included: Victor Henken, Brian Greaney, Mike Biggins, George Gaines, Bill Hobbs, Jerry Aylward, Kit Rosenstein, Fred Melton, Joe Cowan, Mark McHugh, and Stephanie Palisek.
(Photo from US Embassy Barbados website)

Via US Embassy blog and press statement, January 2012:

The Round Barbados Race dates back to the 19th century and is based upon bragging rights for the fastest “trading schooner” – a prize worth its weight in gold to captains in an era where boats competed for cargo business and the fastest cargo won a hefty premium.  The slowest boat won a consolation prize of a barrel of Mount Gay Rum, a practice discontinued after two boats remained out at sea for days, stalling to win the rum!

The modern event is held on January 21, a day celebrating Errol Barrow, Barbados’s first Prime Minister and an avid sailor.  It’s sponsored by Mount Gay Rum, and the prize for a new record in any existing class is the skipper’s weight in Mount Gay Rum Extra Old.

This year, the Embassy’s Charlie Hillyer took up the challenge from the Barbados Cruising Club’s Commodore to find a boat and a U.S. crew.  Captain Charlie found two Beneteau 40s and Shanghaied 22 sailors who, while courageous and willing, had varying degrees of sailing expertise.

[…]

Team USA, on board Lancelot II met the challenge of the open sea’s and 29 other seasoned sailing vessels, crewed by seasoned sailors in the Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race 2012 on Saturday January 21, to take first place in Class 60′ and under.

They bore the brunt of gusting 25 knot winds, 12 foot rollers from the North Atlantic, slippery decks and vessels that seemed to go every way but straight !!!!Even under these extreme conditions they prevailed and made a lasting mark on the sailing community of Barbados and other boats from foreign ports.

Crew of the Lancelot II included: Victor Henken, Brian Greaney, Mike Biggins, George Gaines, Bill Hobbs, Jerry Aylward, Kit Rosenstein, Fred Melton, Joe Cowan, Mark McHugh, and Stephanie Palisek.

US Embassy Barbados is a medium sized-post with approximately 60 direct hire Americans. The grief from this tragic event will be deep and painful especially for a small community like the embassy.

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US Embassy Barbados: Death of the Regional Security Officer

Caribbean news are reporting today as “apparent suicide” the death of the Regional Security Officer (RSO) of the US Embassy in Barbados.

POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING the apparent suicide of a 51-year-old United States Embassy security official.

The body of American George Gaines, a Caucasian male, was found at White Sands Beach, Dover, Christ Church, around 8:30 a.m. yesterday with a bullet wound to the head.

The discovery was met by an immediate response from United States government officials, including Chargé d’Affaires for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Christopher Sandrolini, who was among those gathering at the scene.

When a team from the SUNDAY SUN arrived, Gaines’ body, partially covered with a white sheet and clad in khaki pants, white socks and suede boots, lay a few feet away from the sea, in a bushy area of the beach.

Read the original post here.

US Embassy Bridgetown, Barbados
Photo from US Embassy

The Caribbean Trakker citing reports, with no links says that “guard at a nearby hotel heard a gunshot in the early hours of the morning, a tourist discovered  the body just after 8.30 a.m.  A gun was found at the scene.”

In June 2011, Nation News did a piece on George Gaines and his family (see Reaping big Gaines: Close-knit family of three makes time to play together).

According to that family profile, Mr. Gaines served in Thailand, the Netherlands, Croatia and was on domestic assignment for five years. He has also served in the US military. He has an adult daughter and has been married to his wife of over 20 years.

A separate item online indicates that his most recent assignment in the U.S. is reportedly as the Professional Responsibility Division Chief, in the Office of Investigations and Counterintelligence at the Department of State  from 2008-2010.

As of this writing, the embassy has yet to release a statement. And we have yet to receive a response from our email. We will update if we learn anything more.

Domani Spero