“Trinidad and Tobago,” I patiently repeated for the second time.
“What?” She frustratingly retorted.
If the criminals want war with the protective services they shall have it, National Security Minister Gary Griffith said yesterday. He made the comment in response to the shooting death of Lance Cpl Kayode Thomas on Sunday night. Thomas was gunned down by a gang of men who opened fire on his vehicle in John John, Laventille.
In an interview with i95 FM early yesterday, Griffith said the criminals would face a war if they intend to target members of the protective services within their respective communities.
He said: “I do not intend in any way to accommodate or to bend over to any criminal element in this country.
“If it is that they want a war they would get one and I would shudder to think that any criminal element would put God past their thoughts to try to be involved in pin-pointing law enforcement officers in their community.
“If that is the case, they would be in a war that they would not win.”
Contacted later yesterday, Griffith appeared more calm, saying only that until he knows the motive behind the killing he would not be making any more comments.
The issue of war between criminals and members of the protective services was also raised by Thomas’s relatives at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, yesterday
. “With the ongoing war they just killing people. The gangsters lived up to their word. They declared war on police and soldiers. Why Kayode hadda pay the cake?” relatives questioned.
Thomas was the second soldier who fell victim to the ongoing attacks by criminal elements in the community. On June 21, Cpl Dane Williams was shot in the knee in the Laventille area. He was treated and discharged the following day.
Yesterday, Thomas’s relatives, who did not want to be identified, recalled the threat made by Kerwin Rodriguez, whose brother, Kishawn Daniel, was killed by police on June 21.
That day, Rodriguez said while the police had to sign out for their weapons, residents of the Laventille community did not have to and police would feel it. Two days later he apologised and asked for forgiveness, saying he was overwhelmed with grief when he made the threat.
Rodriguez’s statement incensed Insp Roger Alexander who, in interviews with the media, said he saw the comment as a threat and a sign of war against his colleagues, adding he was prepared to go to war if that was what was needed. Alexander was heavily criticised for his response and during last week’s police press briefing, acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams subsequently said his men were not at war with the Laventille community.
Contacted yesterday and told of Thomas’s relatives’ reference to the threats, Alexander laughed, saying his comments were seemingly coming to pass. He added that everyone thought he was joking then, but now they were piecing together the whole picture. He added that he “was just waiting.”
In a telephone interview yesterday, Williams again asked why the issue of war with Laventille was being fuelled by the media.
“I am not in this war. Is only war, war, war. We should be encouraging peace and love and unity,” Williams said, adding it was not a comforting thing to hear about war.
30 bullets fired at car
According to police reports, around 11.30 pm on Sunday, Thomas was driving along Plaisance Quarry Road, John John, when a group of men stepped in front his Mazda 323 and opened fire. Thomas, who was heading to the Beverly Hills home of his mother, Marva, ran off the road and crashed. He died at the scene.
Police recovered 30 spent shells at the scene of the shooting. Members of the Homicide Bureau are investigating.
In a release yesterday, the T&T Regiment said Thomas was a member of the army for the past nine years and was attached to the Infantry Battalion as a rifle soldier. He was the father of eight children, with the youngest being two weeks old.
Relatives said Thomas was a fun-loving man who danced every chance he got. They said they did not want anyone to use his death to gain political mileage and asked the media to inform Marlene Mc Donald, MP for Port-of-Spain South, not to visit their home.
The relatives said Laventille was not a bad place but was being given a bad name by a few criminals.