Girl, 10, among 8 wounded in Barataria shootout

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The ten-year-old child who was shot in her left leg, at hospital.

THE mother of a 10-year-old girl who was shot in a shootout between two rival gangs says she has no malice in her heart for the men responsible, but wants them to change their ways and put the guns down.

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, the woman said she has been at the hospital with her daughter since the shooting. The child was among eight people shot at 9th Street, Malick, Barataria.

The others are a 36-year-old man who was shot in his leg and upper back, a 32-year-old man shot in his right hand and legs, a 23-year-old man shot in his left arm, a 22-year-old shot in his lower back and is said to be in critical condition, a 51-year-old grazed on his left temple area, an 18-year-old shot in his right shoulder, and an 18-year-old shot in his groin and is in critical condition.

Police said a group of people were in a yard when, at about 10.15 pm, a Hyundai Elantra stopped and two gunmen got out and began shooting indiscriminately.

The child, who was some distance away – close to the community centre, was shot in the left leg, just above her ankle, breaking the bone.

One of the men in the yard returned fire, police said, and videos of the incident from CCTV cameras were shared on social media.

The woman said, “I was in the living room watching television. The children were in the yard. As I get up to tell her come inside, because I gave her a little extra time, I heard the gunshots. I bawling out my child name and I hear her calling me, ‘Ma! Ma! Ma! I get shoot! I get shoot!’ and she came inside.”

She said her daughter and others placed first in a march past in the community sports day on Monday organised by councillor for the area Kwesi Antoine. After that, there was a music truck for the children.

As part of the festivities, her daughter and other children were playing in front her home.

She said her daughter went to get her slippers, which were near a coconut tree close to the community centre, and was returning to her yard when she was shot.

“I am not even thinking about the gunmen. I’m not even thinking about hate in my heart or anything like that. I am just focused on my child who I know is very bright and an upcoming productive individual.

“I am watching how in the blink of an eye my child could have been crippled or dead innocently, and that is my concern right now.”

Head of the North Eastern Division Snr Supt Winston Maharaj said the shooting is part of an ongoing gang dispute.

He said after the death of a gang leader “some time ago” there has been an ongoing feud for who will take over and, with the infighting, there are also external attacks from opposing gangs.

“Our response is continuous presence and visibility, but we can’t be there 24/7. In the past two weeks I have placed quite a lot of officers on foot, including in those vulnerable areas, but we can only do so much on foot. These fellas have nothing much to do but wait for that unguarded moment and strike.”

When Newsday visited, two police vehicles were seen leaving the area. Residents were not willing to speak, especially at the targeted house where one woman shouted from inside her home, “No comment.”

The play park on Ninth Street, near the scene of the shooting, was empty at the time. Three parlours were all closed with young men peering into vehicles, unknown to them, from the safety of their porches.