Criminologist: Young ‘hotheads’ carrying out mass murders

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Criminologist Dr Randy Seepersad –

CRIMINAL gangs are deliberately deploying alienated youngsters to commit violent crimes which turn out to be mass shootings, criminologist Dr Randy Seepersad told Newsday on Sunday, in reaction to a surge in such incidents.

On Saturday, five people were killed at Harpe Place, Port of Spain and three others were injured.

Asked if he had any words to comfort the public, Seepersad said, “There is nothing to comfort the public when it comes to mass shootings like that.

“It more than likely is as a trend, as you are seeing it happen over the last couple of years, with a kind of frequency you have not seen before.”

He said he knew of documents in which intelligence agencies and police identified this as a trend. Seepersad said it was hard to say why this was happening but cited alienated youth.

He said police data showed Gen Z (12-27 years) youth as responsible for the greatest increase in violent crime in the past two to three years.

These were the youngest group of offenders and had a social, economic and political environment different to past times.

“This means they have experienced failure in the educational system to a greater degree, had a lack of support in the community, lack of support in the family, fragmented political views, highest levels of a lack of access to employment and the job market. So, their experiences have been very negative.

“This is coupled with exposure to an unprecedented amount of violence on social media, with a high possibility of social learning and desensitisation.”

Seepersad said some Gen Z youth have no qualms about victimising other people, whether elderly or young people.

Such youngsters, he said, might be a driver of the big shift in the landscape of crime and violence.

“So you go to commit a crime and it does not really matter that you kill multiple people in the process.” Seepersad linked this phenomenon to gang violence.

“What I have seen from the intelligence agencies is that this youngster generation of persons who are more violent, the gangs will use them to commit some types of crime, especially those involving greater risks and for which more violence is required. Gang leaders may gravitate towards younger members because of their level of violence.”

“That does not bode well. There is no comfort to the public, but it signals that something needs to be done when it comes to the younger generation.

“There are structural issues, there are social issues, that I think really require governmental attention.”

He highlighted educational failure, lack of access to jobs, lack of role models, and a need for intervention at the school level.

Seepersad said for the police to curb such shootings would require measures such as more public engagement, more police staffing and the use of technology such as AI-driven CCTV cameras that can send alerts to the police on suspicious individuals. He said he had heard 100 Venezuelan gang members were in TT, many likely active in criminality.