At least four people were murdered and the body of an unidentified man found over the last 24 hours as the country marked a bloody Christmas Day. The four killings pushed the country’s murder count to 522 the second-highest ever recorded after the 550 murder count in 2008. It also surpassed last year’s murder count of 516.
Hours before, cold-blooded criminals shot and killed PC Nicholas Victor at a central Supermarket on Christmas Eve. Investigators said Victor, who was attached to the Traffic and Highway Patrol Branch, was off-duty and doing private security duties at Rainbow Supermarket in Kelly Village at the time of the incident.
Shortly after 8 pm, he was approached by two gunmen who shot him at point-blank range in the head and upper body. Customers inside the supermarket ran for cover at the sound of the gunfire. The armed assailants relieved Victor of his firearm as he lay dead and fled the scene.
“The information we have is that they thought he was a security guard and they were watching him for a while, perhaps to take his firearm, “ a senior officer explained.
Within minutes of the killing, officers from the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) headed by Sgt Mark Hernandez together with Supt Wayne Mystar of the Central Division and officers of the Guard and Emergency Branch and Central Division Task Force were on the scene. They have since mounted a manhunt for the two suspects.
Senior police sources told Guardian Media Victor only got married about 11 months ago to a policewoman attached to the Port of Spain Division. They lived in an apartment at his parents’ home at Bhagna Trace, Chase Village.
In a strongly worded release, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith condemned the killing of the police officer.
Griffith, who visited Victor’s family along with National Security Minister Stuart Young said: “There is a strong possibility that the suspects in this incident may have been some of the many previously held by the officers of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service(TTPS), whilst in the possession of firearms, but were allowed to access bail and get back onto the streets because certain persons in the criminal justice system, including politicians and so-called activists, see it fit that the rights of law-abiding citizens to survive in this country. It is difficult for the police to be doing their job of arresting these individuals with firearms only for them to be given a get out of jail free card to go back onto the streets.
“When this happens, the criminals are emboldened to commit the crime that they were planning to, which is murder because they have legal fees to pay and when the murder rate increases, the TTPS is blamed.”
Victor was the third police officer murdered for the year. Sergeant Roger Williams was shot dead on Charlotte Street in late November by gunmen who had targeted a Beetham man who escaped with injuries. Corporal Frank Fox was shot in Pinto Road Arima on November 23 by armed bandits and died last week at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex after battling his injuries for more than three weeks.
The second killing also happened on Christman Eve in Rio Claro when Paul Henry, 68, fell to his death following an argument with a 17-year-old male relative at his home.
Police said the argument became heated and Henry grabbed a cutlass and dealt the teenager several blows. Enraged, the teenager pushed Henry over a veranda in what police is treating as an act of self-defence.
The relative who later surrendered to police said Henry fell some six feet over the verandah’s balcony and died. The 17-year-old suspect has been detained.
The third killing happened shortly after 1 am on Christmas morning in Phase 7, La Horquetta, Arima.
Investigators said they were called to the area after residents heard loud explosions along Tony Govia Avenue. A 19-year-old, identified as Jamali Williams, of Chin Chin Road, Cunupi, was found with gunshot wounds to his chest. He was rushed to the Arima Health Facility and succumbed to his injuries half an hour later.
Police say that Williams often visited the area to meet friends. They have not been able to establish a motive for his killing.
Just before 11 am yesterday, a man identified as Michael Hernandez was shot and killed in Diego Martin. Hernandez, also known as Micheal Green and Bird, was seated in a white Nissan Almera car near Humming Bird Circular, Sparrow Drive, Four Roads when he was approached by a gunman who shot him multiple times about the body and fled.
Hernandez was taken to the St James Medical Facility where he was pronounced dead.
And just around the time of Hernandez killing yesterday, police were called to Sawmill Avenue in San Juan near a funeral home where they found the partially decomposed body of a man inside a drain.
Due to the state of the body police said they will have to await the results of an autopsy to determine the cause of death.