4 murders in less than 24 hours but police vow to conquer evil

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

GEB officer stands guard ahead of a detachment at the burial site of PC Clarence Jefferson Gilkes at the Tunapuna Public Cemtery, Tunapuna on April 30. – JEFF K MAYERS

Acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob has vowed the police will win the war against the “evil” plaguing the country as there were four murders on Saturday including a brazen drive-by killing of a man near the Breakfast Shed in Port of Spain.

Jacob was speaking to the media after the military-style funeral service of PC Clarence Gilkes at the D’Abadie Pentecostal Church on Ragoo Road on Saturday.

“Coming out of this funeral this afternoon and hearing about two additional murders within the land of TT, we want to give the population the assurance that the TT police service, we have the resolve, we have the resilience to protect this nation. In spite of what we (are) seeing happening, we will overcome.”

Officers give the gun salute to honour their fallen comrade PC Clarence Gilkes at the Tunapuna Public Cemetery, Tunapuna on April 30. – JEFF K MAYERS

“As the pastor said in his sermon this morning, what is happening in some instances is beyond flesh and blood. It’s evil actually stalking our land. But I’m smiling even as I have on my mask. I know that we will overcome. This is a time for TT, when we all need to come together – all the good-thinking persons who want well for TT – to bind with the TT police service. We will work together and we will move out the evil from our land. This is the right time. We are the law enforcement agency and we intend to enforce the law.”

Jacob said in the coming weeks and months different non-government organisations, government departments and others will be joining the police “to fight this scourge that is existing in our land. As I said, we will be victorious.”

He added that the investigation into the death of Gilkes was going well and he should be able to say more next week. Gilkes was shot in the back of the neck during a police exercise in Rich Plain Road, Diego Martin on April 22.

On Saturday, around 4 am man was shot and killed as he was stealing copper cables in Carapichaima. Then, around 3.25 am, Jillian Lewis, 45, was shot and killed at her home in Petit Bourg, and around 10 am on Saturday, Ian “Thin Man” Stanley of Rich Plain Road, Diego Martin was riddled with bullets in a drive-by shooting on Wrightson Road. Gunmen shot a driver along Picton Street, Woodbrook hours later killing the man instantly. Police did not immediately identify the victim.

During the sermon at Gilkes’ funeral, pastor Ricky Mc Clatchie said these were perilous times when crimes and criminals have upgraded and so TT is now facing evil. He encouraged members of the protective services not to drop their hands in despair but to remember that with God anything is possible.

He said over the past two years of the pandemic, grief, pain and sorrow had become commonplace. He said no one plans for death to happen and encouraged Gilkes’ family to use their time of bereavement for self-reflection.

Everyone should ask themselves if they were on the straight and narrow path to God or the broad and accommodating road that led to destruction, he said. They should ask themselves if they were wise builders to build their foundation upon rock or a stupid man who built upon sand. He said the word of God was an unshakeable foundation which would allow them to stand under pressure.

Officers carry the casket of PC Clarence Gilkes to its final resting place in the Tunapuna Public Cemetery, Tunapuna on April 30. – JEFF K MAYERS

Snr Supt Kelvern Thompson, acting head of the Western Division, gave the words of comfort on behalf of the police, describing Gilkes as a hero.

He said those who served with Gilkes on the Western Division Task Force all went into “hostile terrain” and were either shot at or shot at some point in their career. Yet, they continued to answer the call for service and did not shirk their responsibilities.

“When that enemy was confronted and when the enemy reared its head, Gilkes stood in the gap – not just for that community, not just for the nation, but for his colleagues. And even as he was fired upon he wasn’t felled. He stood up and returned fire, and that act preserved the lives of the other three men with him.”

He added that Gilkes gave his life for the people of TT, and his spilt blood represented a sacrifice for law and order.

WPC Nahida Marshall signs a photo of PC Clarence Gilkes during the funeral at the D’Abadie Pentecostal Church, D’Abadie on April 30. – JEFF K MAYERS

Thompson said he counted every law enforcement officer “among the righteous” as they removed weapons and criminals from among the innocent population. He called them “sentinels of justice” saying when “the sword of injustice” killed one, it evoked heartbreak, rage and fear.

Giving the eulogy, Gilkes’ brother, Wayne Gilkes, said he was passionate about football, cooking and baking. He described his brother as helpful, focussed, loving, caring and giving, the backbone of the family which included two brothers, two sisters and ten nieces and nephews.

Acting Snr Supt Kelvern Thompson present Cindy Sin-Leong, the common-law wife of Clarence Gilkes, with a framed photo and flag during her Gilkes’ funeral at the D’Abadie Pentecostal Church, D’Abadie on April 30. – JEFF K MAYERS

He took care of their ailing mother until she passed in 2018. He was a certified chartered accountant but joined the police service in 2011 when he was assigned to the Western Division. And he wanted to get a law degree.

“We, his family members, relatives, sincerely pray and hope that Clarence’s life has not gone in vain and hope it has touched someone’s heart positively and brought some sort of inspiration to their lives to do better and be brave to do the right thing.”

At the funeral, Gilkes’ common-law wife Cindy Sin-Leong was presented with a framed picture of Gilkes and a folded TTPS flag by Thompson.

Scores of officers were in attendance including acting deputy Commissioner of Police Erla Christopher and Assistant Commissioner of Police Joanne Archie.