A total of 13 killings within 36 hours–between 5.50 am on Friday to 6 pm on Saturday–four of which were said to be police-involved shootings, saw law enforcement officials having to work late into the nighton Saturday as multiple investigations got underway.
At least 12 of the killings were gun-related.
Acting Police Commissioner Mc Donald Jacob on Saturday assuredthat the TTPS First Division officers had been appointed to investigate the recent rash of police killings, even as he acknowledged the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) would launch its own independent investigations into the latest incidents.
The body count
The body count began after Winston Peter Walker or Moussa Walker, of multiple addresses in Claxton Bay, Debe, Dow Village and Marabella, was found at Ojoe Road, Sangre Grande, around 5.50 am on Friday.
The 34-year-old had been shot several times and dumped at the side of the road. A white Hyundai Accent was parked five feet away from his body. Police stated that the vehicle was a rental from San Fernando.
The body was viewed by District Medical Officer Dr Trim and ordered to be removed to the Forensic Science Centre in St James for an autopsy. Investigations are continuing.
Also on Friday, just around 2.35 pm, police were called to Belle Vue Road, Dibe, Long Circular, after Wade Parris, 34, was shot in the vicinity of Community Lane. Investigators said that he was walking home when gunmen opened fire on him. He was taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital by residents and later died.
Meanwhile, at 3.20 am on Saturday, six men from various areas within Laventille were said to be returning from a party in Cocorite when they were pursued by officers.
It is alleged the occupants shot at lawmen, and they returned fire, killing three and injuring the others.
Fabien Richards, 22 and his nephew Isaiah Williams, 17, both of St Barb’s, and Niko Williams, 21, of Beetham Gardens, were killed instantly. One other man was also shot and said to be in critical condition at the hospital up to late on Saturday. The other two men escaped unhurt.
The high-speed chase resulted in the men’s car crashing into the wall of Republic Bank Limited, Chacon Street and Independence Square, Port-of-Spain.
Believing young black men liming together in groups were now targets for police and could be in danger of being innocently gunned down, a grieving father cried out for justice as he struggled to digest the shocking news that his son had been killed during a police-involved shooting.
Choking back tears as he hugged his wife, Nicole, at their El Socorro home, Garth Richards said, “This triggers me to ask if the system really for us or not for we? Six ni...s in a car, six ni...s is criminal? Because they living in Laventille? Because they driving a Tida?”
Richards added, “If was a vehicle from Westmoorings, Goodwood Park, Newbury, whatever…and they driving an Audi, a Benz or an X-Trail, what the police will do, try to slow them down, stop them, and say excuse, what going on here?”
Nicole Richards denied her son was involved in any criminal activities. She was adamant his death would not be in vain, and insisted that she would be filing a report with the PCA.
Two-and-a-half hours later, following the Port-of-Spain police shootings, another group of police officers executed a search warrant at the home of Triston “Ratty” Springer at Second Caledonia, Morvant. Investigators claim that he pointed a gun at them, and they returned fire.
Springer was taken to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope, where he was pronounced dead.
The fresh police killings came just hours after the PCA had submitted an independent report into the shooting death of police constable Clarence Gilkes who was shot on April 22 in Rich Plain, Diego Martin. The PCA said it showed a clear abuse of power by the police officers who allegedly shot their colleague.
But the bloody Saturday did not end there, just one hour later at 6.45 am, officers at Sangre Grande and Valencia were called to the scene where the bullet-riddled body of an unidentified African man was found lying in a pool of blood at the corner of Sawmill Trace and Old Valencia Road.
The man was dressed in a black jersey, black pants and a pair of black slippers. There were several gunshot wounds to the head. The deceased could be in his late 30s. The body remained unidentified up to late on Saturday.
The scene was processed by homicide officers, who found three spent shells.
District Medical Officer Dr Belgrave viewed the body and ordered it be removed to the Sangre Grande mortuary, from where it will be taken to the Forensic Science Centre on Monday for an autopsy.
Just before midday–officers were called to the home of Evans Henry at Spring Road, Five Rivers, Arouca, who was killed by a male relative over a land dispute. Police believe he was beaten to death.
The relative remained in police custody up to last night.
North Coast Road
And the bloody rampage continued just half-hour later when four men were killed at Damian’s Bay, Anvaya Lane, North Coast Road.
Police reports identified the victims as Keron Pope; Elijah Farrel; CJ Dan; and Mincy Boy.
The Santa Cruz residents were said to have been in the company of two women when they were ambushed by unknown gunmen as they emerged from the water.
The men were killed while trying to escape in their vehicle but were shot multiple times by the gunmen. Social media videos showed the dead men inside the vehicle with the car doors open.
The two women were not harmed during the incident which rocked the quiet beachside community.
Although relatives of the victims were present at the scene on Saturday, they declined to speak with the Sunday Guardian as up to 3 pm, they were still waiting to see the bodies.
Police at the scene of the murder of Curtis Harriot of Whiteland, Williamsville along the Solomon Hochoy Highway, Debe, on Saturday.
And then around 6 pm, 35-year-old construction worker, Curtis Harriot, of Williamsville, was shot dead in his vehicle as he drove along the Solomon Hochoy Highway, Debe.
Harriot and two other men were in a white Ford Ranger returning home after playing in a cricket match at a recreation ground at Gandhi Village.
While driving along the northbound lane of the Solomon Hochoy Highway, the occupants of a black Xtrail with flashing blue lights signalled them to pull to the side. The driver complied.
A man dressed in black alighted from the Xtrail and fired several shots at Harriot who was in the front passenger seat.
The gunman then returned to the Xtrial which speed off.
Harriot died at the scene.
However, officers of the Central Division Task Force later intercepted an Xtrail with three occupants believed to be the suspects on the Uriah Butler Highway near Chaguanas. Investigators were still trying to determine a motive last evening.
Officers of the Homicide Bureau of Investigations Region 3 are investigating.
CoP: Senior officers to investigate
Commenting on the police-involved shootings, acting Police Commissioner Mc Donald Jacob assured, “Whenever there is a police killing, there are clear procedures to be followed which includes the appointment of a First Division officer to investigate and this will be done in both of these incidents.”
He said the PCA also had the authority to investigate, and he expects this will be done.
Jacob said the TTPS had introduced a Patrol Grid System which was aimed at improving response times in relation to calls/tips from the public, which would mean shorter delays for help to arrive.
He advised, “There will in fact, at times now, be more encounters with the police and persons who may commit acts and attempt to flee or escape the scene. The police will be able to respond more effectively and timely.”
Meanwhile, 41 additional motorcycle officers will soon be added to the patrol roster.
Extending sympathies and condolences to the families of all the victims, Jacob said gang violence and illegal firearms were responsible for many of these murders.