Father, sons, friend killed in Mayaro by ‘cops’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

MURDERED: Buddy George –

GUNSHOTS shattered the midnight calm of a forested area in Mayaro as four farmers, including a father and two of his sons, were shot dead by six men who identified themselves as police officers on Monday.

The men, Jeremiah George, 20, his brother Marcus Buddy, 37, and their father, Buddy George, 59, all of Martha Street, Couva, along with gardener Dion Keyon Mendoza, 29, were made to lie face-down on the ground as the gunmen pumped bullets into their heads at close range.

Two women and a one-year-old child who were also in the camp, approximately half a mile from the end of Basil Trace, Bristol Village, Mayaro, escaped death as the gunmen debated whether or not to kill them. The women now fear for their lives.

A police report said around 12.30 am on Monday, the four men had gone to sleep in the camp, where they cultivate cocoa, when they were awakened by shouts of “Police, police.”

They were confronted by six armed men, all dressed in police operational wear.

At gunpoint, the men were told to lie on the ground. There were several gunshots and then the gunmen ran off.

Seeing the bodies, the other occupants of the camp called the police.

Officers retrieved two 9mm spent shell casings and six 5.56 spent casings, along with one projectile. The bodies were taken to Boodoo’s Funeral Home, Rio Claro. Autopsies will be done at the Forensic Science Centre.

The deaths of these four men bring the murders for the year to date to 108. For the same period in 2023, the figure stood at 118.

On Monday, relatives who asked not to be identified told Newsday the men were previously threatened and an attempt was made on Marcus’ life about a year ago. They said police never took their report seriously.

At the family’s Couva home, a female relative said if the police had taken the earlier threats against her male relatives seriously, they would still be alive.

MURDERED: Jeremiah George –

With tears streaming down her face, the woman said the family patriarch was a cocoa farmer and contractor who had also run a “rolling supermarket” – meaning a supermarket on a truck – which sold goods from community to community.

She said gang leaders threatened Buddy George’s life because he was recruiting their “soldiers” by giving them jobs with his businesses in an attempt to wean them off crime.

She said gangs also demanded “protection tax” from George, which led him to close down the rolling supermarket and move to Mayaro, where he had grown cocoa for the past three years.

She said his sons joined him and they spent most of their time in the garden, along with their friend Mendoza.

She recalled that she spoke to Buddy George about an hour before he was killed, and he said he was happy to have seen the one-year-old baby for the first time.

“I was in shock when I was told that shortly after they went to sleep, Buddy George, who was asleep in a hammock, was awakened by a barking dog and when he got up, he was accosted by his killers, who later executed him and the others.”

Mayaro MP Rushton Paray condemned the murders, which left the community devastated. He said he was outraged at the Government’s failure to address escalating violence and crime and called for urgent measures.

“The senseless violence that has gripped our once-peaceful rural community is nothing short of appalling. These heinous acts not only rob innocent lives but also shatter the sense of safety and security that we hold dear.

“Every part of our beloved TT, including once-peaceful rural communities like Mayaro, is now under the shadow of criminality.”

Paray said he will stand with his constituents to advocate for justice and security for all to build a safer and more resilient Mayaro.

Murders by ‘fake cops’ in 2023

It is not the first time a murder has been carried out by men dressed as police.

In April 2023, three men – Anand Kumar, 42, his son Kishore Kumar, 18 and Rolly Hosein, 26 – were called out of their beds at their Charlo Village, Penal home by men purporting to be police officers. They were made to lie on the ground and shot in the head. Women and children were also spared on that occasion.

Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher said then that all resources would be deployed to investigate whether the crime was committed by uniformed police or men pretending to be police.

On Monday, TTPS Communications manager Joanne Archie said the reports that the men who carried out the murders in Mayaro were posing as police and the alleged inaction of Couva police will be investigated.