Less than one week after a Morvant man was gunned down in front of a Laventille funeral home, another man, this time an employee at the same funeral home, was gunned down near the business on Monday evening.
Police said 39-year-old Clyde Johnson Jr was standing with co-workers outside his workplace, Simpson’s Memorial Services Ltd, on the Eastern Main Road, Success Village, Laventille, at around 6.24 pm, when a silver Toyota Yaris pulled up near him.
Two gunmen got out of the car and shot Johnson several times.
Johnson tried to run away but fell and one of the gunmen walked up to him and shot him again as he lay on the ground. Both gunmen then got back in the car and escaped.
A district medical officer visited the scene and declared Johnson dead.
His body was stored at his workplace before being taken to the Forensic Science Centre, St James, where it was swabbed pending a post-mortem examination.
Last Thursday, 25-year-old Emmanuel Parks was gunned down while standing outside an auto detailing shop a few feet away from the funeral home.
Speaking with Guardian Media at the Forensic Science Centre in St James yesterday, however, Johnson’s relatives said they did not believe he had anything to do with the murder of Parks.
Asked if he ever complained of being threatened, one relative said Johnson never put himself in a position where he would be confronted by criminals.
“He didn’t used to be in anything so there was no reason for anyone to threaten him. He doesn’t lime and thing so. It was just work and home. He didn’t go any parties or anything,” the relative said.
One of Johnson’s friends said while rumours were circulating that Parks was “put in place” or set up by Johnson, he also doubted these rumours, noting that both men did not know each other.
He also questioned how quickly it would have taken for Parks’ killers to arrive at the scene after being told of his location.
“How could they get there that fast after receiving a call? They would have to be supermen to be moving that fast. I don’t believe that, but people may have heard that story circulating and believed it.”
Referring to Parks’ murder last week, Johnson’s mother, Eugena Johnson, said criminals were unpredictable in how and where they would strike and lamented how dangerous the country had become.
She said while Johnson was from Morvant, he stayed with his girlfriend, who lives in Laventille, to be closer to work. She said she often warned him about the dangers of liming outside his workplace after dark.
“I used to tell him I don’t like how you used to be coming out by Simpson’s and liming, sitting out by the road. People just getting killed for nothing. You can’t do anything at all to stay safe again,” the emotional mother said.
“In your house there are home invasions, where they coming and robbing you and killing you in your house.
“We, the people, have to put down the guns to stop the crime.”
Guardian Media visited Simpson’s Memorial Services yesterday and spoke with managing director David Simpson, who said he was deeply concerned over both Parks and Johnson’s murders.
Simpson said while he hoped there would be an end to ongoing bloodshed in the neighbourhood, he felt he had become numb to the realities of crime in the area.
He called on young men to take stock of their lives and realise their potential to rise above criminality.
“I’m looking at the body on the ground and listening the recounts of what took place and it’s a sad situation. We recently had another murder just next door and whatever the reason was, it could be a reprisal, it could be a whole different issue, but another young, contributing citizen is now dead,” Simpson said.
“Being from the Laventille district and being in the funeral industry, we have become numb, we have become immune. At one point, it (murder) used to be a surprise, now you just want to know who it is.
“Gunshots don’t scare you anymore, the police putting up caution tape and all these things no longer affects you.”
Simpson said he had already left work for the evening when he got the call that Johnson was killed.
He said despite being desensitised to the frequency of violent crimes, Johnson’s co-workers were deeply pained by his murder.
“It’s a sad situation what is taking place in Trinidad and Tobago as far as crime is concerned, but when are we as a people going to realise it’s we killing us? We are ensuring that a certain category of people is non-existent if we keep this up,” he said.
Johnson worked as a driver for the hearse and removal vans, but was also known as a skilled craftsman who would place elaborate designs on coffins for funerals.
He was expected to begin work on a batch of coffins that was expected to be delivered yesterday.