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In September, the Caribbean...
The community of Dan Kelly, Laventille, was shocked, angered and confused yesterday after two men were gunned down in a track separating two homes. The victims were identified as Clinton Otis John and Kerwin Jones. Their killings pushed the murder toll to 229 for the year, 31 more than the corresponding period last year. The killings came even as residents continue to complain about patrols being carried out by Defence Force members in their community.
The soldiers’ patrols were started in the wake of the killing in Laventille of their colleague Lance Cpl Kayode Thomas on June 29 but residents in Laventille and nearby Beetham Gardens have been claiming abuse by the soldiers during the patrols and say they should be accompanied by police. When the T&T Guardian visited the scene yesterday, residents were overheard saying the time called for a “water war” like in the old days of “summer vacation” and not gunplay. Neighbours said the men were undeserving of the death they got at the hands of the unknown gunmen.
One woman was heard saying: “It is bad enough when you come out of your area to die but it worse when you come in your own home and they kill you.”The woman was referring specifically to John who grew up in the area but had been living at Barataria with his girlfriend. A nearby shopkeeper said when she heard the gunshots she thought someone was knocking on galvanise only to realise it was John being killed. She said he grew up around her and was a nice person. The woman, who did not want to be identified, said she celebrated her 60th birthday on Tuesday and was gifted a bottle of rum which she was forced to open yesterday to cope with what she saw. The woman said after the shooting she viewed John’s body and was horrified at the amount of times he had been shot, saying the men had “died like dogs”.
According to police reports, John, 35, and Jones, 22, of Seventh Avenue, Malick, Barataria, were found dead in a track around 10.15 am yesterday, after neighbours heard several gunshots and went to check. Police said John had celebrated his 35th birthday on Wednesday and spent the night at his parents’ home with his friend, Jones. John, alias “Boneman”, and Akim “Bachac” Carter, then 23, of Hell Yard, Beetham Gardens, Laventille, were released, following an appeal in 2006, after being found guilty on December 16, 2005 of murdering pensioner Peter Bernard on December 10, 2002. On December 5, 2006, Kion Andrews was freed by then chief magistrate Sherman McNicolls for killing Bernard.
Bernard, 68, was shot dead at his Dan Kelly, Laventille, home after he had just parked his van in a garage. He and his wife, Ena, were talking when gunmen ambushed them, robbed him of $1,900 and shot him. Speaking to the media at the scene yesterday, John’s father, Raymond Charles, said what happened to his son was pure “wickedness.” He called on gunmen to stop their nonsense and not allow funeral homes to profit off their wrong-doing. “What they (killers) doing is total madness. They forget it have a God,” Charles said. Speaking briefly to the media, John’s mother, Janet, said he was a loving, respectable young man and was confused as to who would want him dead.