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Fire destroys murdered man’s business place
Less than a week after he was murdered, the business place of a Tunapuna man was burnt to the ground in what police said was a mysterious fire on Thursday night. Investigators said they suspect arson in the multi-million-dollar fire which they are linking to Ragoonath Sooknanan’s murder last Saturday morning.
Homicide detectives were said to be working on a number of theories, including one of a family feud which connects Sooknanan’s murder to the fire which gutted his variety store. Police sources close to the investigation said relatives denied Sooknanan had any enemies or that he was involved in any criminal activities.
Around 5.30 am on Saturday, Sooknanan, 50, was walking on Tunapuna Road, on his way to open his shop located almost 100 metres away, when he was ambushed by a gunman who shot him twice in the chest. He died at the scene. Around 8.30 pm on Thursday, pedestrians walking on the Eastern Main Road saw smoke coming from Sooknanan’s businessplace, near the Tunapuna Market.
Units from the Tunapuna Fire Station responded within minutes but fire officers were unable to immediately contain blaze which destroyed the wooden structure. The building housed Sooknanan’s business on the ground floor and a popular bar on the second floor. The bar was a regular liming spot for late police commissioner Randolph Borroughs and members of his then Flying Squad.
Owners of adjacent businesses frantically removed their stock from their stores. Scores of residents from nearby communities came to the assistance of the businessmen, braving the heat from the fire. Because the extent of the fire, which threatened to spread to neighbouring buildings, including one occupied by a popular fast food outlet, fire tenders from as far as Arima and San Juan were summoned to assist the first responders.
Almost three hours after the blaze started, fire officers managed to extinguish it, stopping it from spreading to a block of neighbouring buildings. Investigators visited the scene yesterday morning and were up to late yesterday trying to determine the exact cause of the fire. Losses were still being calculated. Supt Garth Nelson, Sgts Mark Maharaj and Basdeo Sinanan are investigating the fire, while acting Insp Wayne Lawrence and Cpl Lynch of the Region Two Homicide Bureau are probing Sooknanan’s murder.
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