The leader of a Sangre Grande-based car theft ring–who was known for targeting women–and his accomplice were killed during a shootout with police on Thursday.Beresford Assoon, who police said was wanted in every division for robbery and assault offences, died at the Couva District Health Facility. His accomplice remained unidentified up to late yesterday. Police said Assoon had several matters before the court and had recently threatened to kill members of the Stolen Vehicles Squad (SVS) who were looking for him.
Around 9.50 pm Thursday, Assoon and the other man ambushed a Couva family at gunpoint as they entered their Roystonia home in a Ford Ranger pick-up. They ordered the family, who had returned from shopping at Xtra Foods Supermarket, Chaguanas, out of the vehicle, jumped in and drove off.Police were called and the Chaguanas CID led by Sr Supt Johnny Abraham and units from San Fernando started a search for the vehicle. Roadblocks were set up in Couva and Freeport.
The men crashed the Ford Ranger along the way, but got into a white Toyota Corolla wagon and continued on. But they were blocked by the police in St Mary's, Freeport.In an attempt to elude officers, the driver of the getaway car turned in the opposite direction onto the Old Southern Main Road, but wa again blocked by the police in Mc Bean Village, where the men abandoned the car and ran into a canefield.
Cornered by police, they were called out to surrender, but replied with gunshots. Abraham said police fired back and two of the men were shot.They were taken for medical attention but died shortly after.Police said yesterday that Assoon usually robbed women of their vehicles after assaulting them.
Earlier victim escapes in Chaguanas
Earlier in the day, the two men and another accomplice had also tried to rob a 60-year-old Chaguanas man of his three-month-old vehicle.Yesterday, residents of Lange Park, Chaguanas, hailed the man for his quick thinking and equally quick feet, which they believed saved him from being robbed and possibly killed.
Recalling the incident, an eyewitness at Central Avenue said, "Me and the neighbour (name withheld) were standing in front my gate talking about 7.30 pm. This vehicle he had bought three months ago was parked nearby and he had the keys in his hand."A white car pulled up and three men came out and went into the car. The big fat one was the same man who police killed and whose picture was on TV.
"Realising what was going on, the neighbour quickly immobilised the engine with a device in the car keys and took off running. While running, he pelted the keys into a nearby yard and headed towards The Rise restaurant and bar."Another resident said the breathless man called police as he reached The Rise, drank a beer and waited. Police arrived soon after and found the car keys stuck in the mud in the yard.
Thanking Central residents for working with the police, Abraham repeated his warning to criminals, "Stay away from Central. We are going to deal decisively with you if you don't surrender."