Kent Carter, vice president of the NAACP’s Arlington, Virginia, branch, was shot and killed Sunday while vacationing in Turks & Caicos to celebrate his 40th birthday, according to statements from the NAACP and the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force.
Two people were murdered in a targeted attack on their vehicle, which contained tourists and staff from a local business, the police said. The vehicle was taking the tourists back to their hotels after an excursion, according to the statement from Chief of Police Trevor Botting.
It’s not clear how many shooters were involved, but Botting said the shots were fired from another vehicle.
Botting said he believes the attack was targeted and that it was carried out by gang members who “have no regard for life and who are hell-bent on causing indiscriminate harm and misery across the TCI.”
“The violence is linked to drugs supply and is fueled by revenge, turf wars and retribution,” Botting said.
Three other people were injured in the shooting, police said, including another tourist.
The second person shot and killed was from a local business, police said.
Julius Spain, Sr., president of the NAACP’s branch in Arlington, Virginia, spoke with CNN on Friday and described Kent Carter as a gentle giant who was highly regarded throughout the community.
The two men met in Arlington shortly after Carter finished up his service as a military police officer in the Army, and bonded over their upbringings and military ties, Spain said.
Carter worked as a civilian special agent across several federal agencies before starting his career as a real estate broker with Keller Williams Realty in Arlington, Virginia.
CNN has reached out to KW Realty for comment.
After joining the NAACP, Carter led the Arlington branch’s criminal justice committee, where he worked with state and local leaders on law enforcement reform among other civil rights issues, Spain said.
“Kent … set the example for others to emulate in life as a kind-hearted, respectable person, and it went both ways,” Spain said.
“NAACP National Board Members for Region 7 are astonished and deeply saddened to hear of the unfortunate death of Mr. Kent Carter, one of the youngest upcoming leaders in our association,” according to the statement from the NAACP, which noted Carter was in his fourth year as the first vice president of the civil rights group’s Arlington Branch.
“He was chairman of the criminal justice committee where he was instrumental in advocating as a member of the country’s police practices working group that established a police accountability review board with subpoena power,” the NAACP added.
Spain said the senseless gun violence responsible for Carter’s death shook the Arlington community, as “everyone knows Kent.”
“He’s going to be dearly missed. You can’t just replace a person like that,” Spain said. “He was like my little brother, I miss him.”
Spain said Carter’s death is going to uplift the community as people are already asking how they can be more like Carter in his criminal justice reform efforts.
“This week has been one of pain, but also one of reflection,” Spain said. “Reflection upon the enormity of good work that a person like Kent can do and the impact it has made on the community.”
Spain said once Carter’s body is returned from Turks & Caicos he will be brought back to his native Tennessee where he’ll be buried in a military cemetery.