Relatives of slain policeman Clarence Gilkes say their family has been left with a dark void that can never be filled.
Speaking to Guardian Media at the family’s home yesterday, the brother of PC Gilkes, Marvin Gilkes, said Clarence was the kind of sibling any person would ask for - kind, giving, ambitious and loving.
“They (killers) don’t know what they do. They don’t know what they do…We are trying, but nobody is really coping well,” Gilkes said about his brother in an interview.
“We miss him being all-loving, especially my second to last son. He’s taking it very hard. They were very close. Things are so hard right now,” Clarence’s niece Crystal said.
According to Marvin Gilkes, he found out about his brother’s death on Friday through a nursing colleague at Port-of-Spain General Hospital.
Gilkes heard from his other brother that Clarence had been shot but was initially informed that the injury wasn’t life-threatening.
“One of my batch called me back and said, ‘I’m sorry.’ I said, ‘What you mean you’re sorry?’ She said he passed away when she saw it online on a police social media post,” Clarence’s brother said.
Asked what he would say to the person who shot his brother, Marvin’s head dropped, then he smiled.
He admitted that all sorts of thoughts have gone through his head about what he would like to do to the person responsible.
“I’m not a person who goes to church but I believe there is a God. So you will say things and you will have hate but you will tell yourself, if I meet him, it will be something, but then later you will come back and say, God, that’s for you to deal with,” he said.
Marvin believes his brother was killed by another one of the country’s lost youth.
He said too many of the approaches to fighting crime are surface attempts. However, he said he believes nothing will change, at least until something substantive is done to change the mindset of the nation’s youth.
“They don’t know what love is, you know. If you tell them, boy, I love you, they think it’s a homosexual thing because they don’t understand what you’re talking about,” Marvin said.
“We are not trying to change this mindset and this culture and it’s getting worse. The politicians are playing games…It’s always a quick fix and nothing continues…I work in a hospital and every day there are gunshot victims—young fellas. It’s a waste of life.”
Clarence was the third of four Gilkes children.
Their father died more than 30 years ago, when Clarence was still in Primary School
According to Clarence’s relatives, despite the loss, Clarence was always motivated to excel academically. When other children were giving trouble in school - smoking and running down girls, Clarence studied. After leaving school, Clarence worked in a nearby grocery to save up money to go to school. He studied hard, they said, and he became a certified chartered accountant. After attaining his degree, he worked as an OJT for a few years, before joining the T&T Police Service around 2012.
“He was really good to everybody. I couldn’t ask for a better brother. He was loving and giving. He was no limer. He was no smoker, no partier and he didn’t gamble. He was dedicated to his job and education,” Marvin recalled.
On Friday afternoon, PC Gilkes was shot during a police exercise in Rich Plain, Diego Martin. He was pronounced dead at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.
A manhunt for the perpetrators continues.
Meanwhile, in a four-minute-long WhatsApp voice note over the weekend, one of the main suspects claimed he was innocent and willing to surrender to police if given certain guarantees.
“I will gladly give up myself. I really want to give up myself. I have two little kids and I need to clear my name in this, but on the contrary, we also know the system we have here,” he said in the recording that went viral.
He also claimed in the voice note that it was a police officer and not him, who shot PC Gilkes.
Yesterday, the suspect’s mother, Kadaffi Romney, visited Guardian Media’s St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain to tell his side of the story.
She claimed that her son has been concerned about his safety since 2019—when he took legal action against a police officer for alleged harassment. She claimed her son also has information about police-involved corruption.
“Once and for all, something has to be done about the rogue cops. As far as I’m concerned, my son is in desperate need to save his life. I’m desperate for my son to come out alive. But the most desperate parties are those corrupt policemen who are doing anything and everything possible to eliminate him,” Kadaffi Romney said.
Romney also expressed concern about her youngest son, who was detained by police officers on Friday. She claimed he was beaten in custody and is being held unfairly by police.
In addition to the T&T Police Service, the Police Complaints Authority is also investigating the case.