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Dead man ‘had turned his life around’

Published: 
Saturday, August 23, 2014
La Horquetta resident Yvette Carter speaks to T&T Guardian’s Jensen La Vende on Thursday, following the deaths of her former neighbours, David Baker (inset), Reuben Richins and Kareem Edwards, who were killed by police. PHOTO: CLYDE LEWIS

David “Junior” Baker, one of three men killed by police on Tuesday, had turned his life around and was trying to live a law-abiding and productive life. To ensure this, he moved out of his home town to live in Freeport. This, according to Baker’s “adopted” mother Yvette Carter, 56, who spoke with the T&T Guardian on Thursday at the men’s Petra Crescent, La Horquetta, home.  Carter said Baker and the two men, Kareem Edwards, 19, and Reuben Richins, 23, were “Clean like a whistle.” 

Carter added: “He changed his life. He moved to get a fresh start. I used to talk to him about what people used to say about him and he tell me ‘Missy Evie don't worry. I not on that’.” Sitting outside the Richins’s home, stuffing a piece of cloth into a glass bottle partly filled with kerosene, preparing for the wake, Carter said the boys were like sons to her.

She added that their deaths hurt because they were good boys who had respect not just for her, whom they called “Miss Evie,” but for the neighbourhood. Relatives of Richins, who were also busy preparing for the evening’s wake, said they would have been more accepting of Baker’s death had he been killed by criminals. A relative of Richins said he told her once that he would die with and for Baker. She added that on Sunday he left home to go to Baker’s new residence. She said the two were like brothers.

Another relative of Richins said when they heard of the shooting they messaged Baker and Richins. They received a BlackBerry Messenger response saying “Don’t ping me I dead now.” They added that the Whatsapp messenger status on Richins’s phone was changed to “Rude boys don’t live long.” Carter, who lived two houses away from the boys, said proudly: “Them boys, that’s my sons. They get an unjust death. It just sad the young men haven’t lived their lives as yet.” 

Carter added that it was more hurtful to see the trio, who were inseparable, all die at once. As Carter called for justice for the men’s death, the relative, who spoke earlier, said there would be none as there were thousands of people in Trinidad still awaiting such.

What happened
According to police, Baker, 28; Baker’s nephew, Edwards; and their neighbour Richins were at a house at Kurban Ali Drive, Calcutta #2, Freeport, when they were shot. Police said members of the North Eastern Division Task Force went to the house in search of Baker, who had six outstanding warrants for murder and gun related offences. Police said as they entered the house they were shot at and they returned fire, fatally wounding the men. 

The trio were all shot in the chest and taken to the Couva Health Facility where they were pronounced dead on arrival. Police said two bullet proof vests, a .38 revolver and a .45 pistol were recovered. The deaths of the three men took to 37 the number of people killed by police for the year.