Roger Mootoo –
RYAN HAMILTON-DAVIS AND YVONNE WEBB
Just two days shy of the end of February, TT crossed 100 murders, as gunmen continue to snuff out lives unchecked. Three men, one a freed murder accused, were killed overnight Saturday into Sunday afternoon in south and north Trinidad. Their deaths took the murder rate to 103 in 57 days. Last year, around the same time, the figure was 92.
The last victim was Kibwe Millette, who was shot dead while visiting friends in San Juan at around 5 pm, on Sunday.
Gunshots rang out on First Street, and when residents checked they found Millette’s body next to a parked taxi. Residents said Millette had parked his car elsewhere on the street and was walking on his way to visit friends when a seven-seater car drove up and the occupants fired several shots at him before the car sped off.
One resident, who did not wanted to be named, lamented the high crime rate in the area.
“I must be worried, I live alone here,” said the resident. “I live in fear here. I pray and pray and pray. I have cameras, but they (criminals) could hold you up by the gates.”
Also, in north Trinidad, 21-year-old Akiel Johnson, of Cassia Street, Morvant, was murdered while he was on his way to his grandmother’s house on Saturday night.
Police report Johnson was walking to his grandmother’s home off Coconut Drive, Morvant, when he was confronted by a group of men who shot him several times before escaping.
Police at the scene where Kibwe Millet was shot dead next to a parked car on First Street, San Juan on Sunday. The licence plate is blurred as the car, a taxi, did not belong to Millet. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle
Police and emergency services were alerted and first responders took Johnson to Port of Spain General Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
In the third case, former high-profile kidnapping and murder accused Roger Mootoo was gunned down on his way to Cara Courts, the apartment complex where he lived, at St Margaret’s Village, Claxton Bay, early Sunday morning.
Mootoo, also known as Roger Ravello, was returning to his home at building one when he was killed by gunmen who ambushed him around 4.30 am.
Due to the name of the apartment building and the nearby Cara Suites Hotel and Conference Centre, one of the hotel’s managers wanted to distance the hotel from the shooting.
“We are Cara Hotels or Cara Suites. We are not an apartment building. We are not affiliated with Cara Courts Apartments in any way. There was a killing but it does not involve the hotel in any way.
“We are located on the same compound, however, they are two separate buildings. As you come up the hill, Cara Hotel is straight up. If you make an extreme right, you will get to Cara Courts.
“We want to distance our hotel from that shooting incident. It occurred nowhere close to our compound.”
Mootoo was one of nine men accused of the November, 2015 kidnapping and murder of Petit Bourg businesswoman Samdaye Rampersad.
During the trial, forensic pathologist Hughvon des Vignes testified that Rampersad had been buried alive.
Her body was found 41 days after her kidnapping, in a shallow grave in a cashew field in Carolina Village, Claxton Bay.
Mootoo, Phillip “The Boss” Boodram, Ricky Singh, Kervin Williams and Aaron “Arc Eye” Grappie were convicted for manslaughter and sentenced to 28 years in prison.
On June 30, 2022, appellate judges Mark Mohammed, Alice Yorke-Soo Hon and Prakash Moosai upheld an appeal from Boodram, on behalf of the men, over their manslaughter convictions, on the basis of errors made by the High Court judge who oversaw the defendants’ second retrial in 2016.
They were released after serving 17 years in prison. Three months after their release, in September 2022, Boodram was killed by police, during a shootout at Esperanza, Couva.
Police were responding to a report of robbery at the time, and were in a chase after suspects in a vehicle, when there was an exchange of gunfire. All three suspects were killed. The other men were identified as Malick Paul of Railway Road and Gerard Thorington of Goodwill Road, Enterprise.
At the end of January, when 59 murders were recorded, Police Commissioner Erla Christopher, who was still acting at the time, said all efforts would be made to curb killings and suppress gang activity, and gun trafficking, identified as the main causes of gun-related homicides.