Teachers at the Arima Hindu School were forced to send pupils home and shut down operations for the rest of the day yesterday, after a gun attack near the compound left one man dead and a woman injured.
Police said around 7.40 am, Dominic Almerales and Desiree Sparkle Layne went to serve eviction notices to their foreign tenants who were renting apartments from Almerales’ house on Temple Street, Arima.
However, police said they were both greeted by bullets from two armed men. Almerales was reportedly struck several times and died on the spot. Layne was shot on her arm and leg but police said the injuries were not life-threatening. She was taken to Arima Health Facility where she was treated and warded in a stable condition last evening.
It was reported that Almerales, a father of one, was a mechanic and landlord who lives close to his apartments on Temple, Street. Guardian media was told Almerales had heard his foreign tenants were teaming up with gangs in the area and decided to evict them from his property.
A resident, who was taking her child to school at the time of the attack, told Guardian Media she had to run for cover when she heard loud explosions close to the school. This was followed by police sirens blaring as officers arrived on the scene.
Pupils and teachers in the school compound reportedly became scared during the chaos and the principal ordered all students to go inside their classes, before locking all the gates leading onto the compound and making phone calls to parents to come and get their children.
One relative, who was crying at the scene and only gave her name as Mabel, told Guardian Media Almerales was killed because he was trying to get rid of criminal elements he believed were misleading the youths in the community.
“The boy is so nice, he will hug and kiss you wherever and whenever he sees you. He is respectable and kind-hearted and is loved by many. I can’t believe that my best nephew was killed in such a cruel manner, I will miss him as he was connected to me,” she said, noting she hoped the police catch the killers soon.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing two men armed with submachine guns, one of African descent and the other believed to be a Venezuelan, running through their yard.
Police believe the shooting was related to the eviction of the tenants, some of whom are believed to have been in the country illegally.
Almerales’ body was viewed by a district medical officer who ordered its removal to the Forensic Science Centre, St James, where an autopsy will be performed.
Visiting the scene were Arima CID officers led by Sgt Mottley, Homicide Bureau Region II, Arouca officers led by Insp Parks, Cpl Jones and PC Mc Queen and Arima Task Force members.
Investigations are continuing.
Almerales’ killing pushed the murder total to 183.