Two women were among eight people murdered yesterday in Arima and St Augustine as police fear gang warfare has now broken out over the murder of Kareem “Pinto Boss” Walters of Pinto Road in Arima on Monday.
Police say that at 8.40 am, Dawn Mc Kenna, 40, of St John’s Road, St Augustine, was driving her Tucson motor vehicle east along the Arima Old Road in the company of her son, Jordan Mc Kenna, 19, and another man identified as Jeremy De Freitas, 18, when they were blocked by a silver Tiida.
Another vehicle pulled up on the roadway behind them from which two men alighted opened fire on the three of them.
As one of the victims tried to run away, one of the killers pursued him over a gate and continued shooting.
They all died on the spot.
Ten minutes later, five more residents of St John’s Road were killed and one wounded.
In that incident, police said that at 8:50 am Jasper Jones, 32, was at his shop with Callistus Mathew Perreira aka Ming, 30, and Khalil Jackson aka Tallo, 23, when five men came out of a white AD wagon and began firing several shots in their direction.
Jones fell on the spot where he died. Perreira was taken to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex by members of the St Joseph CID in company with Jackson. Perreira was pronounced dead on arrival and Jackson was treated and said to be in a stable condition.
At the same time officers of the St Joseph CID, while on the scene of the shooting, received information of a body found in a forested area approximately two miles away at Upper St John’s Road.
Police Constable Vitalis and other officers discovered the bodies of three people—one female and two males—with chop wounds to their necks lying on the ground among some bushes.
They were identified as Mustapha Mohammed, 44, his wife Amanda Mohammed, 39, both of LP 58 Upper St John’s Road St Augustine and Kendall Rivers of Upper St John’s Road St Augustine.
Police said they were all bound and gagged.
Police said the gunmen in all the attacks were believed to have been armed with high-powered weapons.
Police told Guardian Media that the killings indicate an upsurge in gang activities and they believed that it was part of an ongoing gang war over drugs and turf. A police source added that the upsurge sprung up after Walters was killed in Matura on Monday.
Police officers patrol along St John’s Road, St Augustine following the murder of five persons where two were shot and three throats slit, yesterday.
Residents shocked and saddened
A resident in the area, who did not want to be identified said that he’s saddened by the killings.
“I heard the gunshots but I didn’t know where it came from but when I saw the police I said, ‘right is here’. But it is sad because all of us are human beings and it is the first time I’m seeing something like this happening in the area. The people will now live in fear because of what happened.”
A sister of one of the victims at Upper St John’s Road said up to Tuesday night she spoke to her brother.
“My brother was good. This morning (Wednesday) I got a call from my niece saying she mummy and daddy die and then she got cut off. Then another person called me and I came up here. My brother was going to his garden and his wife decided that she would go too and they killed them. Nobody deserve this. I would not wish this on my worst enemy.”
The woman said her brother leaves behind two children—a 21-year-old son and a daughter who will be celebrating her 14th birthday next week. “These children will suffer.”
Another resident told the Guardian Media that she was horrified to hear the screams and cries of the family members in mourning.
“I live in the valley and you can hear the cries of families in mourning all around you. This has shaken up our peaceful community and left all of us traumatised. I personally believe that this is not the end that it will have more and who will come knocking at our doors when it surges? We are all scared.”
The resident said over the years there had been serious crimes and believes that it has already impacted on visitors and worshippers to the Abbey at Mount St Benedict.
“So many things happen and it go unreported in the media and so many people come here to visit the church or to jog or walk because of the peaceful environment but now people are coming not so frequent because of the crimes and now this spate of killings will have a bigger impact on who’s coming and who’s not. Here when you wake up on mornings you can hear the birds chirping and when it rains you can see the mist, it’s so serene but this lovely community is shaken up very badly.”
The resident added that there should be something tangible implemented to effect change.
“Many of the young people’s fathers have been killed and it’s left for the mothers to raise them but there should be a mentorship programme put in place jointly by the police and officials from Mount St Benedict. Let them come together and start a mentor programme to bring back the youths who have gone astray and who are swaying towards the bad elements. This is what we need and I believe that change can come because we really don’t know what caused all these killings but we know that the youths sway to illegal activities in the area.”
Mustapha Mohammed and Amanda Mohammed
Police gearing up for retaliations
Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations Mc Donald Jacob said both sets of murders were connected.
“We have multiple killings, five in this location and three in another location in Arima. We believe the two incidents are connected,” Jacob said.
He also disclosed that they are preparing for reprisals.
“The police are carrying out investigations in the areas and we have troops on the ground as we are preparing for any kind of reprisal.”
“As you know this division is volatile. We have the necessary officers to deal with the situation. But this which happened this morning (Wednesday) is something which we will respond to firmly and will respond to immediately,” Jacob said.
He added that he hopes that very soon the homicide investigators will solve the murders.
“At this stage on the surface of it, it appears to be drug-related, but we have not confirmed this as yet. But we will be doing our inquiries. At this state with the eight murders, we have six males and two females,” he added.
Jacob noted that once gang activity is taking place in any country, during a State of Emergency or not, these gang activities would continue and these things can result.
“You can look at Jamaica and even in the US where you can have an SoE and killings still occur. The SoE does not remove organised crime and gang activities. If it was so we would just call an SoE and gang activities would just vanish. But this does not happen. We don’t expect ‘cause we have an SoE that criminal activities will cease,” Jacob said.