Gonzales resident after mass shooting: ‘Nowhere safe’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A policewoman, wearing a bulletproof vest, escorts school children after the Escallier St Jerome Anglican School in Gonzales, Belmont was dismissed early on June 3 following a mass shooting incident hours earlier on the evening of June 2. – Photo by Roger Jacob

TWO spent shells covered in mud, water and dried blood were the only signs left behind after a June 2 shooting on Lange Street in Gonzales, Port of Spain, which left three people dead.

On June 3, around 10am, Newsday visited the area where the shooting took place, in front of the Escallier/St Jerome Anglican Primary School and Sheikers Steel Orchestra Sports and Cultural Club. The area was not cordoned off.

Classes at the school ended early, around 10.30 am. A school security guard cited the shooting as the reason for its early dismissal. Two community police officers were seen putting students in taxis as parents arrived to collect others.

WPC Thomas from community policing said, “We usually visit the school, so we are always in the neighbourhood.

“Us visiting isn’t new, but in light of what took place earlier, we knew we had to be out to assist.”

Thomas said she and her colleague found the two spent shells and contacted crime scene investigators.

Newsday left around 11 am. By then, the community police had already left, but no CSI had arrived to collect the shells.

One resident, who did not wish to be identified, said she was not at home when the shooting took place, but expressed sadness about the incident. She said she was “sick and tired” of crime.

“It feels like nowhere is safe again. I’m not saying this area is perfect, but it’s been a while since we had anything like this happen on this side.”

Asked if the shooting was gang-related, she said she did not know. She believes an increase in police patrols may help in dealing with crime, not just in Gonzales but throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

Bullet casings in a drain on June 3 at the area in Gonzales where on June 2, gunmen shot at a group of limers. – Photo by Roger Jacob

Speaking with the media at the Port of Spain General Hospital (PoSGH) on June 3, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said he was told that around 6.30 pm on June 2, a group of men was playing football when a car pulled up and its occupants opened fire, shooting six people.

He said the injured men were taken to the hospital, where they were followed by the suspects, who resumed shooting at the victims. Two of the six were pronounced dead on arrival.

“One person was gunned down on the compound just behind the accident and emergency ward. That brings the death count to three. Three other persons were injured and are currently in the hospital in stable condition.”

On June 2 around 11pm, Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds and the head of the police Homicide Bureau, Snr Supt Rishi Singh, spoke with the media outside PoSGH.

Singh said a reward would be offered for information leading to the arrests of those responsible and the Commissioner of Police had already given the green light for it. The reward figure was not given.

Singh said the shooting was gang-related.

Hinds said no hospital staff or members of the public were injured. He compared gangs to guerrilla fighters and called on the public to denounce their presence in their communities.

On May 28, Canadian YouTuber Christopher “Chris Must List” Hughes was arrested and charged under the Sedition Act with publishing a seditious audio/video publication on social media.

Hughes, who has been in Trinidad and Tobago for several weeks, is a travel vlogger and his trip to Trinidad focused on gang culture and violence.

His videos had gone viral as they featured many locals openly bearing firearms and saying they were in a gang. Since his arrest, his videos have been removed from YouTube.