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A close-knit community in Morvant was left in mourning yesterday, after two brothers, aged nine and 15, were killed and their teenage cousin wounded in a gang-related incident at their home. Teenager Jamal Brathwaite and his brother Jadel Holder had just had lunch at their mother’s home at Petunia Avenue, Coconut Drive, Morvant, around 3 pm when two gunmen raided the small-two storey duplex.
Homicide detectives said the intruders ordered the siblings to lie face down on the floor of the living room, before shooting each once in the back of their heads at close range. The shooting was witnessed by the brothers’ mother Michelle Holder and their 16-year-old cousin Glendel Alexander, who were both in the house at the time.
Police said while the gunmen did not appear to target the brothers’ relatives, upon seeing the shooting Alexander reportedly got up and attempted to leave the room by climbing a flight of stairs. Before he could make his way upstairs, one of the gunmen shot him once in the right leg. The attackers then made thier way out the house and escaped.
Officers from the North Eastern Division Task Force, led by Sgt Cornelius Samuel and including PCs James Stafford and Kevin Franktom, responded to the scene soon after and began searching surrounding communities for the gunmen. However, no suspects were held up to last night. The siblings were pronounced dead on the scene by a District Medical Officer (DMO), who ordered their bodies removed to the Forensic Science Centre, St James, where autopsies will be performed today.
Alexander was taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital and was receiving treatment up to late yesterday, while the victims’ mother, who was not identified by police, was being questioned by investigators. “So far, we suspect that they (the gunmen) came for the older one. We not sure about the younger one as yet,” a police source said last night.
Investigators said despite his age, Brathwaite was well known to police, who suspect he had recently been initiated into the gang which operates in his community. He was also a suspect in several recent shootings in the Morvant area. Although scores of neighbours gathered near the caution tape at the scene yesterday, as crime scene investigators scoured in and around the house for clues, most refused to speak to media personnel.
One female resident, who spoke to a news team from the T&T Guardian but asked not to be unidentified, described both brothers as “trouble makers”. “They was stress since they small. Its so sad, but sooner or later it was going to happen,” the woman lamented. The woman said Brathwaite had dropped out of school after completing primary school, with Holder apparently choosing to follow in his brother’s footsteps. “They was never in school. I only see the smaller one in uniform a couple of times,” the woman said.
The murder toll now stands at 185, according to statistics compiled by this newspaper. The corresponding figure for the same period last year was 159. Detectives of the Homicide Bureau of Investigations are probing the matter.