A soured relationship with an Erin businessman is one of the leads police are probing in the shooting of Rancho Quemado fisherman Robert Mendoza and the murder of his wife Ellen Joseph on Tuesday.
Investigators said Mendoza, who owned several fishing boats operating off T&T’s South coast and has several government contracts, was recently under investigation by the Anti-Gang Unit.
The murder resembles the assassination of Vaughn “Sandman” Mieres, his wife Alika “Letty” Dehere and two others on July 25. However, investigators said there was no link and believed the manner of execution was copied.
According to reports, Mendoza, 46 and Joseph, 30, a COSTAATT nursing student, were sitting in the living room of their home when gunmen entered the house and shot them several times. The men then ran to a white Nissan Tiida parked outside the house and sped to the Los Iros Beach where they torched the car.
Guardian Media was told that the suspects were a mixture of locals and Venezuelan men who fled in a fishing pirogue.
A relative said that the couple’s two children, seven and five, were in the kitchen with the maid when the gunmen attacked. He believes the killers did not see them.
He said that around 8.25 pm, his father heard gunshots and looked out and saw three men running out of the house.
After waiting several minutes to see if it was safe, the relative walked into the house and found a bloodied Joseph breathing faintly on the living room floor.
A few feet away, Mendoza sat bleeding on a chair.
Santa Flora police and an ambulance were contacted but relatives put Mendoza at the back of the van and took him to the Siparia District Medical Facility where he was treated and later transferred to the San Fernando General Hospital.
Mendoza remained in a critical condition with damage to his lungs up to yesterday, while his children remained in the care of relatives.
The relative suspects that Mendoza knew the men as his doors would usually be locked. He said the dog would usually bark at strangers but there was nothing to alert neighbours that something was wrong until they heard gunshots. However, there seemed to be no signs of forced entry.
While residents were shaken by the killing, they were not surprised, alluding to suspicious activities taking place on the South Coast involving fishing pirogues.
Officers of the Homicide Bureau of Investigations and the Crime Scene United visited the area, took statements and processed the scene but no one was held for the murder and shooting.
The burnt out car was taken to the Santa Flora Police Station where officers checked for clues.