The country is still reeling in the aftermath of the deadly heist outside the Pennywise Super Centre in La Romain on Monday, where two security guards and four bandits were killed.
Allied Security Services officers Jeffrey Peters, 51, and Jerry Stewart, 49, died following the attack by five bandits armed with high-powered AR-15 weapons and small arms.
Another officer, Peola Baptiste, was still fighting for her life in hospital, even as the police managed to capture two other suspects early yesterday.
Today, therefore, marks another sad day in the annals of crime fighting in T&T, where the criminals again took the lives of innocent law-abiding citizens as what has been an unprecedented crime siege continues.
Once again, the incident showed the brazenness of the criminal element in believing they can commit these acts with impunity. The bandits struck without warning, opening fire on the security vehicle as it was turning onto the main road from the Pennywise compound. The officers inside, especially those in the front seats, never had a chance to take evasive action from the deadly projectiles fired at them from the AR-15s carried by at least three of the five bandits who ambushed their pick-up. Not only that, innocent bystanders both on the street and in the compound, some frozen in shock with what was unfolding, were lucky not to have become collateral damage in the melee.
Nothing can bring back life for the loved ones of the deceased, especially the officers, but in this case, the police at least quickly tracked down the perpetrators—who have earned no sympathy from the public.
However, questions remain over how the criminals continue to so easily acquire high-powered arsenals to operate despite the continuing efforts of law enforcement and the Government to prevent the free flow of these weapons of war into the country — a battle the criminals are seemingly winning outright but which the TTPS must turn around now.
Indeed, photos circulated on social media hours after the incident showed some of the suspects posing with the very weapons used in the attack. Not only that, messages accompanying the photos suggest the perpetrators telegraphed their activity in advance of the attack. This, of course, raises questions about what the TTPS’ Cybercrime Unit is doing if it is not monitoring and tracking suspicious activity by individuals on social media networks.
The security company also has questions to answer, since it is unfathomable how the officers went to collect money from one of T&T’s biggest cosmetic and pharmaceutical chains in an unarmoured vehicle, especially given the level of criminality in the country today. These officers were sitting ducks to their attackers and yesterday’s renewed call by the Estate Police Association for better equipment and protection for their members was certainly justifiable.
Meanwhile, to the relatives and friends of the bandits involved, who took the social media to grieve for them, even while not acknowledging the lives they took and offering condolences to the families of the deceased officers and their colleague in hospital, we say you must now convince the survivors to reveal their entire plot and other possible co-conspirators, as well turn others you may influence away from a path of crime.