Condolences pour in for Port of Spain boy, 11, shot dead

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Police on the scene where Ezekiel Paria, 11, was shot dead during a drive-by at Laventille Road, East Dry River, Port of Spain, on February 22. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Condolences continue to pour in for Ezekiel Paria, the 11-year-old boy killed in a drive-by shooting at Laventille Road, East Dry River, Port of Spain, on Thursday afternoon.

Among the latest to to sympathise was Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher.

A media statement on Friday afternoon said she offered her deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Ezekiel, who was a student at Eastern Boys’ Government Primary School.

The statement said he tragically lost his life during an alleged attack on another individual at Laventille Road. The statement did not name the individual. However, the intended target is believed to be contractor Ahkel Fairbairn, who was shot and wounded while driving. His daughter, 15, was also in the car but managed to get out and run out of harm’s way. Ezekiel, who was standing nearby, was hit.

“This senseless crime cuts deep as a young life was lost, and the opportunity to grow, develop and maximise his potential was taken away. I assure the public that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) is committed to bringing the perpetrators to justice, as two suspects allegedly involved in this crime are already in custody,” the statement quoted the CoP as saying.

Police reports say officers from the Port of Spain Task Force and Port of Spain Gang Intelligence Unit responded swiftly to a report of a shooting in progress at about 4.45 pm on Thursday in the Gonzales, Belmont area.

They intercepted a car matching the description of the one used in the shooting and arrested the two occupants.

The police searched the car and allegedly found a gun and ammunition as well as a quantity of marijuana.

The suspects are in custody at the Besson Street Police Station and investigations are ongoing

The top cop added, “We remain undaunted and relentless in our commitment to tackling gun violence and protecting the lives of all citizens, particularly our most vulnerable.

“I also commend the swift action and vigilance of the officers involved in the interception and eventual apprehension of the suspects, and once again, I urge anyone with information about this tragic incident to come forward and assist the investigation so justice can be served in this matter.”

Earlier on Friday, officers from the Community Oriented Policing Section (COPS) and staff from the Victim and Witness Support Unit (VWSU) visited the school and offered condolences on behalf of the CoP and the executive of the division.

Justin Rodriguez of the VWSU held a brief session to help the students understand their emotions and feelings about losing their schoolmate.

He also held other sessions with staff and students aimed at giving them a sense of hope to cope during their time of loss.

On Thursday night, the Education Ministry said it was saddened by Ezekiel’s untimely passing.

A statement on the ministry’s Facebook page said: “The ministers, executive and staff of the Ministry of Education extend deepest condolences to the family, friends, classmates and teachers of Ezekiel Paria…on his untimely passing.

“The Student Support Services Division of the MoE has co-ordinated a team of social workers and guidance officers to provide support and counselling to students and teachers. The ministers are indeed saddened by this tragic event and join the national community in mourning his loss.

“May little Ezekiel rest in peace.”

Contacted for comment, Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, the UNC’s shadow minister of national security, also offered condolences to Ezekiel’s loved ones.

He added, “It is simply horrific and highlights the complete breakdown of law and order. If this cannot engender outrage, nothing will.”