A Virginia community is reeling from the violent death of prominent civil rights activist and realtor, Kent Carter who was killed in an ambush while on vacation in Turks and Caicos for his 40th birthday.
Julius D. “JD” Spain Sr., president of the NAACP Arlington Branch and the victim’s longtime friend, said Carter was excited about spending time on the beach of the British territory last weekend.
He left Saturday, Oct. 1 and was scheduled to return on Tuesday, Oct. 4.
“Best beach in the world, Bro,” Carter wrote in a message to Spain on Sunday at 8:30 a.m.
Carter, the local NAACP charter vice president, never made it back to Virginia. By Sunday evening, he was dead, caught in a hail of bullets on his way back to The Ritz-Carlton. A local person was also killed. Carter’s girlfriend reportedly wasn’t injured, and two other people in the vehicle were hit with gunfire, according to authorities.
“These criminals proceeded to indiscriminately shoot into the vehicle transporting the employee and tourists,” Commissioner of Police for the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Trevor Botting said in a video briefing. “As a result of this attack, two persons were murdered. One from a local business and the other being a tourist from the United States. Our deepest condolences go out to the families of those who were murdered.”
Spain said Carter was well-liked and active in his community. He served as an NAACP leader for four years. He was chair of the organization’s criminal justice committee, where he worked with state legislators to draft laws pushing reforms. Carter, a Tennessee native, was also a former special agent in the U.S. Army.
“Kent was a gentle giant, a servant leader. I think he was one who set an example for others to emulate,” Spain told Atlanta Black Star. “Very respectful. Never heard this guy raise his voice in 10 years for anything besides at a rally for George Floyd we were doing.”
Spain said he got word of Carter’s death around 6:30 p.m., about half an hour after it happened. Carter’s girlfriend called the victim’s brother in Tennessee, who contacted Spain.
Carter reportedly used his body to protect his girlfriend from getting shot. Spain believes if something were out of the ordinary, Carter’s military training would’ve prepared him.
The couple was five minutes away from the hotel when they were ambushed. Chaos followed.
“She was frantic, hyperventilating,” Spain said of Carter’s girlfriend, which he only referred to by her first name, Alana.
Carter leaves behind a 14-year-old daughter and an ex-wife. His family is waiting on Turks and Caicos officials to complete the autopsy and investigation so Carter’s body can be returned to the states.
“He was a normal, young Black guy, professional living up in D.C., a real estate agent doing great things in the world,” Spain said.
Authorities believe the shooting was a targeted attack by Jamaican gangs marking territory.
“Using military grade high-velocity weaponry, the vast majority of the murders in September have been targeted and linked to this enlarged and now emboldened gang trying to remove who they believe are the local drug and arms smuggling competition. Those local criminals, already established here, are fighting back,” said Turks and Caicos Gov. Nigel John Dakin said during a press conference on Monday, Oct. 3.
For Carter, the Long Bay, Turks and Caicos, was paradise. He sent his longtime pal pictures of the beach.
“He’s like a little brother to me, and used to call him my ace, and we did a lot together,” Spain said. “So it was just — it’s strange that this happened. So we’re still in awe.”
James Morgan III, a member of the oldest African-American lodge in Virginia, where Carter was once a master said his heart is broken by the news of his friend’s death.
“He did nothing to deserve this and I pray healing for his family and that these criminals be brought to justice,” Morgan wrote. “Kent was a hard-working, friendly and loving man who loved life.”
Derrick Johnson, president of the national branch of the NAACP, expressed his sorrow for Carter’s death in a statement Thursday, Oct. 6.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Kent Carter — a father, a veteran, and the vice president of the NAACP’s Arlington branch. This news is painful for our NAACP family,” he said. “We are sending condolences to his loved ones and are thinking of them during this difficult time.”