Williams

Details are now emerging in the tragic case of Scott Hapgood, a Connecticut man who took his family on a vacation to the Caribbean island of Anguilla in mid-April. Following a harrowing attack from a hotel worker, and the attacker's subsequent death, the worst nightmare for any American traveling abroad has been extended with irresponsible, sensationalistic reporting.

We need to recognize this incident as an absolute tragedy, and we owe Scott Hapgood and his family our deepest sympathies.

From the first moment I heard about this case, something stunk. It was strikingly clear to me that the story as reported by mainstream media made no sense and omitted important underlying information, as well as common sense.

Now that we are beginning to understand the full story of exactly what happened in Anguilla, it raises some very serious questions. For example, is Anguilla unfairly pursuing Hapgood and refusing to come forward with facts in order to protect the tourism industry upon which it relies? Let's examine what apparently happened:

An American father of three decided to take his young family to the Caribbean island of Anguilla for vacation. On April 13, they were visited in their room by a hotel maintenance worker claiming he was there to fix a sink.

Presumably feeling safe, the Hapgoods allowed the man into their room. Suddenly, the man brandished a weapon, attempted a robbery. Scott Hapgood was forced to fight the attacker for his life and those of his children, who were directly threatened.

Scott Hapgood's family has issued a detailed statement regarding the incident, along with a photograph of him taken immediately after the event.

The statement's details are shocking and describe what occurred in the hotel room as the young Hapgood children bore witness to an apparently crazed criminal attacking their father.

According to the statement, the attacker came at Hapgood savagely, even biting his face. After the fight occurred and security arrived to restrain the attacker, Hapgood was treated for his injuries and taken to the local police station to speak to authorities.

Initial reporting from Anguilla and other outlets gave an incomplete story and unfairly painted Hapgood as the aggressor. They failed to dig deep and examine the broader pieces of what had occurred and even to follow basic standards of journalism.

Only now are reporters digging into the background of the hotel worker. According to the Daily Mail, he may have a criminal record. Where are the results of a toxicology report, which would indicate whether the attacker was a drug user, which could also provide a motive for why someone would commit such a brazen robbery? A quick check of the attacker's public Facebook profile shows him glorifying violence, referring to being in a gang, using drugs, posing with bottles of alcohol, making obscene gestures toward the camera from behind a skull facemask and actually brandishing firearms.

While we continue uncovering the full details of what happened, it is already apparent just how reckless early reporting was in terms depicting the incident. On its face, early reports that Hapgood committed murder are absurd and defy logic. Why would a successful American father on vacation — in front of his children, mind you — take the life of a maintenance worker unless he was forced to do so?

This is hardly the first time an American family has been targeted by a deranged resort worker in Anguilla. Only a couple of years ago, an unsuspecting New York girl was raped and stabbed repeatedly by an ex-convict working as a gardener at the resort. This attack also came without provocation or warning, so it begs the question of how well properties catering to American tourists are vetting and checking the criminal backgrounds of its workers. Did Hapgood's attacker have a criminal record? The media should be demanding answers from Anguillan law enforcement.

As it stands today, Hapgood is set to appear in Anguillan court later this year. But I suspect that as the facts come to light, the charges will be dropped. The idea that you would even charge a man criminally for defending his children against an armed attacker inside his own hotel room is ludicrous.

Scott Hapgood and his family deserve far better. If it were not for the heroic actions of this loving father, his own children could have paid the ultimate price. A full accounting of the facts is long overdue. Anguilla owes at least that to this man and his family.

To find out more about Armstrong Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.