A tremendous blow to Arima and the rest of the country.
That’s how Arima Mayor Lisa Morris-Julian described Monday’s murder of playwright and award-winning producer, director and actor Raymond Choo Kong.
Choo Kong’s killing brought the number of people who have been murdered in 24 hours to eight and the number of people killed for the year to 280 and prompted the Police Service to call out all officers to duty as it mounts an offensive to stem the tide of murders.
Choo Kong, 69, was stabbed multiple times to the upper part of his body by a lone assailant at his Green Street, Arima home.
His killer stole Choo Kong’s wallet, a gold ring and a cell phone before escaping.
Choo Kong would have celebrated his 70th birthday next month.
Investigators believed the assailant climbed onto the roof of an adjoining business place and then into Choo Kong’s verandah and made his way through an open door and confronted him sitting on a recliner.
Downstairs housed Leroy’s Sports Bar.
Ganesh Ramlal, the adopted son of Choo Kong told reporters that received a call from one of his brothers saying they found his father in a pool of blood “sitting on a chair in the living room” with the television on.
For hours, curious onlookers lined Green Street which had been cordoned off by police officers.
Several Crime Scene Investigators were also seen taking photographers and looking for clues around Choo Kong’s verandah.
Police officers also questioned workers and owners of nearby establishments.
Looking visibly shaken, Morris-Julian who showed up at the scene expressed surprised that the murder took place right behind the Arima Police Station.
Obliquely opposite is the Arima Fire Station.
“This is not something that we could recover from easily because Raymond Choo Kong was part of the Arima fabric... and the Arima landscape.”
Morris-Julian said she felt “overwhelmed” that the life of a man whom she knew personally for years had been snuffed out.
“This is definitely not the news I was looking forward to. Raymond has always been an inspiration to the creative field. This is a tremendous blow. I am really surprised anyone would want to hurt Raymond. He was a gentleman.”
Trying hard to contain her emotions, Morris-Julian said she would approach Choo Kong’s family to honour him posthumously through the Arima Borough Corporation.
“The borough has honoured him before,” Morris-Julian said.
Morris-Julian ranked Choo Kong to the late Holly Betaudier and Lord Kitchener, two of Arima’s icon and legends.
“He made us proud with his Raymond Choo Kong productions. What he did for Arima cannot be erased by bullets.”
Asked if the Corporation would apply pressure on the Arima Police to bring Choo Kong’s killer to justice, Morris-Julian said the police would have to put pressure on themselves to solve this crime which has shocked the country.
“I am asking (citizens) to trust the police and have faith in them. The police cannot be blamed for the wicked hearts of men.”
The Mayor also promised to provide counselling to business owners who may be traumatised by the murder.
“Arima is small when something happens to one it happens to all.”
A long-standing friend of Choo Kong, businessman Roger Belix said the sudden news “sucked the life out of him.”
Belix said one of Choo Kong’s dream was to open an art theatre or training school for actors and actresses in Arima.
“That dream was never fulfilled. Arima has lost a real hero. For this crime to be right behind the police station...it is not putting a good light on Arima at all.”
For a man who scripted comical plays, Belix said Choo Kong’s murder was no “laughing matter.”