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Tuesday, October 6, 1998 Published at 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK


Shot Barbados tourist improving

Paula Bridges a few days before she was shot

A British woman shot in the heart by a stray bullet in a Barbados robbery is improving in hospital.

According to her common law husband, John Martin, she could soon be well enough to be moved to the US for a transplant.

Care worker Paula Bridges, 41, remains critically ill after a five-hour operation on Monday to remove the bullet but the hospital in the capital Bridgetown describes her condition as "stable."

[ image: The couple were on holiday in the southern end of the island]
The couple were on holiday in the southern end of the island
The bullet has badly damaged a valve and left her heart critically weakened.

Doctors are now doing checks to determine whether she suffered any brain damage during the surgery.

Her kidneys have failed and she has been put on dialysis, but Mr Martin said: "She is a strong girl and has a very strong will to live."

Ms Bridges was dining at a restaurant in Worthing, Christchurch, in southern Barbados when the shooting happened.

Niles Bertram, from the local Daily Nation newspaper: "This has shocked everyone here"
The gunman had already robbed two local people and tried to take cash from the till before firing a random shot that hit Ms Bridges in the chest.

Mr Martin has kept a vigil at his wife's bedside, along with a local priest. She has already been visited by her sister and son, and her mother is arriving from England on Tuesday.

Mr Martin said he was convinced she had been targeted deliberately.

"There is no question that what they did to Paula was premeditated and on purpose," he said.

'Give me your rings'

Mr Martin told how two gunmen burst into a bar opposite their hotel.

Superintendent Albert Carter: random shot
He told the Express on Sunday: "They started shouting to hand over our money and everything. I was just frozen.

"At first Paula told the guy he couldn't have her rings then she took one off and put it on the table, then she put another one in her mouth.

"He started screaming at her. The other guy had a gun at my head. Then he just fired from a foot away.

"She turned to me and said 'I've been shot', then slumped off her chair onto the ground. I didn't know what to do."

Barbados's acting Prime Minister David Simmons has described the shooting as an act of "recklessness", but added: "It appears that no direct violence was offered to Ms Bridges.

"Violence of any kind is to be abhorred and the Royal Barbados Police Force will be relentless in pursuit of the perpetrators of this callous crime."

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