Cricket legend reacts to triple murder in hometown – LARA HURTING OVER CRIME

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

HURTING: West Indies batting legend Brian Lara who says the rampant crime and lawlessness in the country, is hurting him deeply. He is currently in India coaching one of the teams competing in the IPL. FILE PHOTO –

WEST INDIES cricket legend Brian Lara says he is hurting over the levels of crime and lawlessness the country has found itself in, as he commented on the death of a childhood friend, who was among three men murdered last week in Lara’s hometown of Cantaro Village, Santa Cruz.

In a release sent on Sunday, Lara said even as he is in Jaipur, India, where he is the coach for the Sunrisers Hyderabad team participating in the T20 Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament, “deep down, I am hurting as I see my country slowly turning into a place that’s unsafe for all Trinbagonians.”

Lara’s friend, Brian Parouse, 57, was one of three men gunned down when gunmen stormed Webster’s Bar, on Money Avenue, Santa Cruz last Tuesday. Also killed in that attack were Brandon Charles, 36, and Dale Alexander, 43.

Over the course of last week, at least nine murders were committed.

Police said the triple murder was most likely gang-related as they suspect the gunmen may have been targeting someone else who had been at the bar moments before the shooting.

The triple murder was captured in all of its callous, cold-blooded brutality on CCTV and video images uploaded to social media quickly went viral.

“I was in complete shock and dismay after watching video footage in which a childhood friend got killed whilst sitting watching basketball at a local bar in Cantaro,” Lara, 54, said.

He spoke of his pain in seeing Cantaro – where he grew up – “that was once the most beautiful village with cocoa and orange estates…, crumble under the burden of crime and relentless violence.”

He also recalled days gone by when feuds within the village were settled on the field of play instead of today, where it is settled by the barrel of the gun.

Acknowledging that TT, like other countries, is facing challenges with youth involvement in crime, he said this was driven by a range of complex social, economic and cultural factors.

“One contributing factor is financial worries which affect many young people in TT. Young people from low-income families may feel pressure to engage in criminal activities to earn money or support their families.

“This invariably leads to involvement in drug-trafficking, gang activity, and other criminal behaviours.”

Saying he was blessed with his parents Pearl and Bunty Lara, the holder of the highest individual score in Test cricket (400 not out) said another contributing factor was the breakdown of family structures which he said leads to a lack of guidance and supervision for young people.

He spoke also of the lack of parental figures and proper role models which leave naive and impressionable youths to a life of crime.

Lara said while he was fortunate to have the support of a nurturing family to guide him towards productive activities, other youths may not be as fortunate and urged parents to make time for their children or face the consequences.

“I don’t think there is a parent who wants a life of crime for their children, but if you don’t pay attention to your offspring, someone will happily do so for you.

“It’s heartbreaking to hear about the current state of my village and country, especially with the increase in youth involvement in crime.

“It’s important to understand the root causes of this issue and address them through comprehensive strategies that provide education and employment opportunities, promote positive role models and mentorship programs, and improve access to social services and mental health resources.”

Lara also stressed the importance of sports as a means of engaging at-risk youth and called on different stakeholders to unite in order to address crime and it’s causes.

“Encouraging and investing in sports programs can help channel the energy and passion of young people into something positive, while also providing opportunities for personal growth and development.

“It’s important for all members of society to come together to address this issue and work towards creating a safer and more prosperous future for Trinidad and Tobago,” Lara said.

Contacted for comment, police said officers from the North Eastern Division are supported by the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) and the Guard and Emergency Branch (GEB) for crime suppression operations.

One officer said several searches were done at the homes of suspects since the triple murder and he stressed the importance of the public’s support in finding suspects.

He added that while the police tries to maintain a regular presence in different communities, it is difficult to predict such heinous crimes which usually happen without warning.

“Some incidents like what we would have seen with the bar shooting are sporadic. Exercises are ongoing and we continue to target priority offenders…so it is a work in progress.

“There would have been a number of different exercises and operations done in response to this incident and we continue to work with the Homicide Bureau of Investigations to get to the bottom of this,” the source said.

BRIAN LARA STATS Test… ODI… First Class… List A

Matches 131 299 261 429

Runs scored 11,953 10,405 22,156 14,602

Batting average 52.88 40.48 51.88 39.67

100s/50s 34/48 19/63 65/88 27/86

Top score 400* 169 501 169

Balls bowled 60 49 514 130

Wickets 4 4 5

Bowling average 15.25 104.00 29.80

Best bowling 2/5 1/1 2/5

Catches/stumpings 164/– 120/– 320/ 177/–

(Source Espn Cricinfo)