Families Mourn Newlyweds' Tragedy

The families of a newlywed couple attacked in an apparent robbery turned homicide while honeymooning in Antigua said they are trying to understand how such a thing could happen.

"We are deeply shocked and devastated at the recent events in Antigua and are struggling to comprehend what has happened to Ben and Catherine," said the families of Catherine Bowen and Benjamin Mullany in a joint statement.

Police said at least one gunman entered the newlyweds' cottage at Coco's Hotel before dawn Sunday and shot Bowen, killing her and leaving her husband critically wounded with a gunshot injury to the neck. He remains at Holberton General Hospital in the Antiguan capital of St. John's.

"I can tell you for sure they both went to bed and I can tell you for sure that one of the two doors was forced open," said Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda Commissioner Gary Nelson.

Law enforcement authorities have cited robbery as a motive in the incident and have questioned several suspects, but no one is in custody, according to the Associated Press.

Bowen and Mullany, both 31, were on the final day of their two-week honeymoon following their July 12 nuptials. Bowen was a doctor from the Pontardawe area of south Wales, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Bowen's death was the 10th slaying in the region this year.

"My feelings are one of absolute shock horror and I just can't help feeling that the world should not lose two such nice young people," said family friend Janet Davis. "They had a lovely rosy future ahead of them, all gone, which is very sad."

Harold Lovell, tourism minister of the two-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, met with guests at the hotel, in the island's southwest, and said security would be increased in the area.

"This isolated incident has deeply shocked our community and we wish to reassure visitors that Antigua and Barbuda is a safe destination," Lovell said in a statement issued later.

Crime Increasing in Destination Town

The U.S. State Department said there has been an increase in violent crimes in Antigua during the past six months and the Bowen's death isn't the first high-profile incident to occur in the Caribbean recently.

In 2006, New York journalist Dick Jefferson was assaulted as he vacationed on St. Maarten. Jefferson said his assailants yelled gay slurs and before attacking him with a tire iron.

Then there's the infamous case of Natalee Holloway, who went missing in 2005 on the island of Aruba during a high school trip. Neither she nor her remains have been found and no one has been formally charged in her case.

Experts said travelers always should be aware of their surroundings in order to protect themselves.

"It's always important to know the environment you're walking into, whether it's the Caribbean or the Middle East. Antigua in particular is a beautiful place, so the expectation of harm is relatively low," said ABC News consultant and former FBI agent Brad Garrett. "Despite being in that environment, you still need to be vigilant."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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