Cops kill double murder suspect, friend in St Augustine

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Officers leave after processing the crime scene where two men were killed by police on Dookiesingh Street, St Augustine on May 15. – Photo by Jeff K. Mayers

Residents of Dookiesingh Street, St Augustine, celebrated after police shot and killed two men on Wednesday, one of whom belonged to their community, with one resident describing the dead man as “wicked like hell.”

Head of the North Central Division Snr Supt Richard Smith told Newsday there was a small chase and a violent encounter between officers and a man they identified as Darion Bridgelal, who was wanted for a double murder that occurred on December 30.

In December, three men were liming on the porch of a house in the community when the suspect allegedly shot and killed Anand Bissoon and Shane Ramjitsingh, both of Dookiesingh Street Extension. Another resident, Nethan Greer was injured.

On Wednesday, Smith said when police went to Bridgelal’s home earlier in the day, he was in the company of another man, identified only as “Sudeen.”

Smith said when officers tried to arrest Bridgelal, a violent encounter occurred, resulting in both men being fatally wounded.

A gun, drugs and ammunition were recovered at the scene. Smith offered his condolences to the relatives of two dead men.

“We are out here trying to ensure safety and security for the residents of Dookiesingh Street and I want to just let them rest assured we are here for them and we appreciate whatever information the community is able to share with us in the near future,” said Smith.

Both men died metres away from Bridgelal’s home, behind a neighbour’s house. The resident was not at home at the time of the shooting.

Newsday visited the community, but unlike Smith, residents did not offer their condolences, instead opting to praise officers for what they called “taking a demon off the street.”

One resident who did not wish to be identified said he had known Bridgelal his entire life and about five years ago, he dropped out of school. He said the community can now “sleep a little easier knowing Bridgelal is no longer roaming.”

An officer of the canine unit examines the crime scene where two men were killed by police on Dookiesingh Street, St Augustine on May 15. – Photo by Jeff K. Mayers

The resident said his concern was for the officers involved in the shooting and their wellbeing and he hoped the TTPS can help them.

“It’s not easy killing somebody, I can’t imagine how they (the officers) feel when they have to. I hope they get some kind of help to cope with it.”

Another resident, also not wanting to be named, said, “It was about time.”

Alleging Bridgelal has been terrorising the community and residents, she said the community had made several calls to police for help in the past.

“It’s sad when somebody dies and I want to say this situation is sad too, but I will be lying because everybody was fed up with them.”

She said when the suspect was a child the community held him, took care of him and watched him play with their children.

The woman said after Bridgelal dropped out of school, he started getting involved in criminal activity and fell in with the wrong crowd.

“From baby I hold him, he used to play in my yard, but I can’t really feel sorry about it because he used to give so much trouble. There was no kinda peace in the back here with them. This used to be a good neighbourhood, we need to try and get it back to the peaceful place it was.”

Asked for her views on the reappointment of Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher, the woman laughed and shook her head, saying, “No comments on that one.”

Three elderly men standing metres away from the crime scene watching officers work said, that while they weren’t happy about the killing, they were also not sad.

“Them fellas and them were wicked and bad,” one man said.

Another stressed the need for community programmes and monthly town meetings. He believes the meetings will foster stronger community ties, which in turn can help with the growing crime rate in TT.

“We need to come together as a community in here (Dookiesingh Trace), we need resources, like sports clubs and training programmes, to give young people something to do. That might help fight crime.”

The man also questioned the country’s social support services in schools, saying, “How could you drop out of school and no social worker, teacher, or principal is looking into that? They (the school staff) were probably happy he dropped out so they didn’t have to deal with him.”

The man also echoed the same comments on the reappointment of Harewood-Christopher, saying he had little faith in her. He said someone “better” needs to lead the police service.

Another resident said sometime after 8 am she heard gunshots.

“I got really scared, both my mother and husband are bedridden, so I had to hide him under the bed because we did not know where the shots were coming from.”

A media statement via the TTPS Facebook page said North Central Division officers went to the house around 8.45 am on Wednesday based on information they had.

It said officers cordoned off a white, two-storey house but before they could enter and clear the house, officers determined it was “breached.”

The two men were in the house and when they saw the police, they ran out the back door. Officers saw the men running with guns in their hands into a bushy area.

The statement said officers ran after both men when they pointed guns at officers and in “keeping with the TTPS Use of Force Policy, officers discharged their service weapons, neutralising the said threats.”

The men were taken to the Eric Williams Medical Science Complex and pronounced dead on arrival.