One woman was shot dead and another found with her throat slit and a plastic bag over her head in separate incidents on Wednesday. The body of Florentine Arneaud, 62, from St Vincent and the Grenad
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Cops probe why ‘Kitty’ still had gun licence
Senior Central Division police have ordered an investigation into how controversial Pastor Vishnu “Kitty” Lutchmansingh was allowed to keep two licensed guns even though he was facing 88 criminal charges. Police sources confirmed the inquiry was launched after Lutchmansingh used his licensed Heckler & Koch 9 mm pistol to kill his brother Kishan, 44, on Monday, before turning the weapon on himself.
Police said they are also inquiring into allegations that Kishan, before Monday’s tragedy, may have reported threats made by Lutchmansingh to kill him. The T&T Guardian understands that Lutchmansingh had also reported to the police in turn that Kishan had threatened him. Police public information officer ASP Joanne Archie told the T&T Guardian investigations following such incidents are routine.
She said checks at the Firearms Division yesterday showed Lutchmansingh was allowed to keep his licence after being slapped with 88 criminal charges because the Firearms Act stipulates specific conditions for revoking licences and Lutchmansingh’s charges did not fall under them. “What he was charged for, which was fraud, is not one of the offences under the Firearms Act where the licence could be revoked,” she explained.
Under the Firearms Act, she said, a licence could be revoked “only if the person is convicted of an offence under the act itself, or if the person has been convicted of an offence under the Domestic Violence Act or is found to be of intemperate habit or unsound mind.” Responding to claims the pastor might have been mentally unstable, Archie said for the licence to be revoked on that basis, the mental stability of the licence-holder would have to be medically proven.
“You would not make that determination just like that. You would have to have the circumstances or a medical to prove (that),” she added. Additionally, Archie said, Lutchmansingh had not been convicted of any of the charges, some of which are still pending. Lutchmansingh, 54, went on a rampage, using his licensed pistol to shoot and kill Kishan in a garden near his home at David Toby Trace, Chin Chin Road, Cunupia.
As he headed to his own home at Savary Extension Road, Las Lomas No 1, which he later set on fire, Lutchmansingh also ploughed into his nephew Timothy Janitan with his car. Janitan’s leg was seriously injured. Police believe the chain of violence stemmed from an ongoing land dispute between the brothers.
Bailor distances himself
After the gory end of the flamboyant pastor, people with whom he rubbled shoulders and whom he presented with opulent gifts have sought to distance themselves from him. Among them is the doctor who used his palatial property to secure the fallen pastor’s $4.7 million bail. While expressing shock at Lutchmansingh’s demise, Dr Ashram Bissoondath opted yesterday not to be referred to as a “close friend,” instead, declaring: “We were just acquaintances.”
Bissoondath, in a brief telephone interview, said he and Lutchmansingh were not in contact, even though his property continued to be held as surety for the pastor. He added: “I have not seen him for a long time. The bail was still here. I did not revoke or remove the bail. I have not seen him for a long, long time. He said the entire scenario involving Lutchmansingh on Monday was “unfortunate news.”
“It was a shock to me. I knew him, but any situation like this, with anybody, it would be a shock,” he said. Bissoondath said he did not know Lutchmansingh to have a violent streak and in fact said Lutchmansingh, the founder of Faith Sanctuary Family Ministry, was “a very affable person, very nice. I always had a good relationship with him.”
Who was Pastor Lutchmansingh?
Vishnu “Kitty” Lutchmansingh shot into the limelight when he claimed to be the beneficiary of £700 billion left for him in a will by Buford Keaton, an American businessman who purportedly owned businesses across the world. He published a book which chronicled his windfall, From Poverty to Prosperity. Two lavish launches were held, one at the Faith Sanctuary Ministries at Marabella and the second at the Hilton Trinidad.
But the pastor fell from grace when it was later discovered that Keaton was a railroad worker and there was no inheritance. He had by then borrowed money from several wealthy businessmen on the promise that he would repay, at exorbitant rates of interest, once he collected his inheritance. Lutchmansingh was last before Deputy Chief Magistrate Rajendra Rambacahan for allegedly swindling $1.1 million from four businessmen from south Trinidad.
Another businessmen who invested in him was Nutrimix executive Shaheed Mohammed. In 2012, Lutchmansingh was committed to stand trial in the San Fernando High Court for defrauding Mohammed of $3 million. In his heyday, Lutchmansingh set up his church in Marabella in 2003 under a large tent, which was lavishly decorated with a carpeted pulpit and tapestry. He later set up a church in Cunupia after being evicted from this temporary church.
Court marshals levied on the Cunupia church after Lutchmansingh failed to pay a $4 million debt owed to Mohammed. Chairs, instruments and electrical items were seized as Mohammed sought to recover his losses.