American tourist vacationing in Turks and Caicos shot in armed robbery, medically evacuated

(ABC News) — An American tourist vacationing with his family in Turks and Caicos had to be medically evacuated after he was shot during an armed burglary Friday night.

The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force said a 57-year-old U.S. citizen was shot by a masked gunman while in his vacation villa in the Leeward residential area of of Providenciales, an island in the Turks and Caicos archipelago, around 10:12 p.m. local time Friday. The man suffered from a single gunshot wound to his upper body and was immediately transported to a local hospital, where police said he was listed in stable condition.

ABC News has learned the name of the victim is Michael Jones.

Jones was later medically evacuated to the United States and taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida, where he was listed in stable condition Sunday morning, hospital spokesperson Lourdes Rodriguez told ABC News.

Commissioner of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force, James Smith, told ABC News that investigators believe at least two suspects forcibly entered the private villa intending to rob the property. The villa was secured with an alarm system and a security guard, whom police later found had been “lightly bound” at the scene with his own shoe laces, Smith said.

At least one of the suspects was confronted by Jones inside the home and then a shot was fired.

“What we don’t know is why a shot was discharged, what led up to that shot being discharged,” Smith told ABC News.

The suspects fled the scene soon after with a laptop they had pilfered from the home. They remain at large. Investigators are reviewing footage from security cameras in the villa in hopes of identifying the suspects, Smith said.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Ministry of Tourism, Environment, Heritage and Culture said it is aware of the incident but urged residents and visitors not to be alarmed.

“It is with regret, that we report any situation involving the safety or well-being of residents or guests to our country. While our country remains safe, any acts of crime against residents or tourists are unacceptable,” the ministry said in a statement Saturday. “Our residents and visitors should continue to enjoy our islands, as we will not be intimidated by acts of cowardice.”

The shooting comes just five weeks after another American tourist was shot in Turks and Caicos. On June 23, Kevin Newman of Alabama was robbed at gunpoint and shot in the Grace Bay of Providenciales while vacationing with his wife and son. Newman, who was seriously injured, was taken to a local hospital, but had to be medically evacuated to the United States for further treatment.

Turks and Caicos Islands Gov. John Freeman acknowledged an “increased incidence of violent crimes” in his country but said it is related to wider challenges.

“Recent incidents of aggravated burglaries have again given rise to understandable public concern. There are immediate but also wider dimensions to the increased incidence of violent crimes. Our thoughts — as always — are with the victims of recent crimes and their families,” Freeman said in a statement Saturday. “The effort to deal with violent crime is ongoing. More resources are being dedicated to security needs and more will be available in the future. And all of us with responsibilities for security are committed to seeing the task through.”

The U.S. Department of State has not issued any travel advisories for Turks and Caicos and has called the crime rate there low but increasing.