Photo: Contributed Photo / Royal Anguilla Police Force / Contributed Photo
DARIEN — A spokeswoman for Gavin Scott Hapgood said Thursday he acted in self-defense during an incident that led to the death of a hotel employee in Anguilla while he and his family were on vacation.
Hapgood, 44, of Darien, was charged with manslaughter by the Royal Anguilla Police Force last week in connection with the death of Kenny Mitchel in Anguilla on April 13.
Kelcey Kintner, spokeswoman for Hapgood, said he was “attacked without warning in his family’s hotel room by a maintenance worker who was armed and demanding money.” She said Hapgood acted in self-defense to “protect the lives of his young daughters and himself.”
The RAPF spokesman Randy Dick told the Associated Press that Hapgood’s daughters were in the room when Mitchel was killed at the Malliouhana resort.
Despite reports indicating the Hapgoods called maintenance before Mitchel was killed, Kintner said that wasn’t the case.
“Neither invited nor expected, the worker showed up unannounced in uniform at the hotel room, claiming he was there to fix a broken sink before carrying out his sudden, violent attack on the family,” she said.
She said Hapgood and his family were “traumatized by the assault” and “thankful to be alive.”
The killing has Facebook comments on the Royal Police Facebook page erupting with speculation — some commenters supporting Hapgood, others Mitchel. But the details of what led to the fatal interaction has not been shared by Anguilla police.
Anguilla, a British Overseas Territory, is located in the eastern Caribbean. There is a small main island and several offshore islets. Hapgood and his family were vacationing at a hotel on the West End of Anguilla. The RAPF said around 4 p.m. April 13, officers responded to the hotel for an incident that “resulted in the death of one resident of Anguilla.”
After being arrested and formally charged, Hapgood appeared in court where bail was denied. But a statement from Police Commissioner Paul Morrison said the court ended up granting bail. Thomas Astaphan, Hapgood’s local attorney, told the court that his client would return to Anguilla to clear his name, according to the Anguillian, a local newspaper.
The Anguillian reported 27-year-old Mitchel’s death certificate said he died from “prone restraint, positional asphyxia and blunt force trauma to the head, neck and torso.”
A relative of Mitchel’s sent a Facebook message to Hearst Connecticut Media with a link to a news story and added “Our family wants justice.” The relative did not respond to a follow up request for an interview or comment.
Tensions were high following Mitchel’s death, which was initially referred to by RAPF police as a homicide investigation.
“We are not shrouding the case in mystery, we are bound by rules and so are others on what can be said,” a statement from Morrison said. “We have charged a man in connection with the death of Mr. Mitchel. The court granted bail and we now prepare for the court process and eventual trial.”
The RAPF public media relations officer provided a statement on Facebook about the scores of comments on its page about what happened.
“The Royal Anguilla Police Force acknowledges the fact that people want information in respect of the recent arrest and charging of a U.S. tourist, however, like all investigations these are not conducted on social media,” the statement said. “The comments being made on the RAPF Facebook have no foundation in fact and are likely to incite racial hatred and can prejudice a jury, especially since they will be chosen from among the community of Anguilla.”
Hapgood is a UBS financial adviser. A representative for UBS told the New York Post they were aware of the events and were following the situation closely, adding that it would not be appropriate to provide “any comment in relation to an active criminal proceeding.”