Guanapo survivors and community gets state support

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Joanne Archie –

Rishard Khan

State agencies say the relatives and survivors of Thursday morning’s mass shooting in Guanapo Heights, Arima, will be given the necessary support after the ordeal.

The TTPS corporate communications manager, ASP Joanne Archie, told Newsday the victims will be offered the full range of victim services available.

She said relatives were already contacted, however, they were at the hospital lending support to the injured victims at the time.

“As we speak, there are 2 VWSU (Victim and Witness Support Unit) officers accompanying homicide officers to the scene. In the days following, support will continue in the form of counselling to the affected relatives and family members. In addition, the VWSU would seek to collaborate with other state agencies such as family services towards providing that extended support that may be needed to the various parties out of this incident,” she said.

Minister of Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox said psychosocial support is being offered to the families, and assistance would be provided for the burial of the deceased victims.

“We understand there may be some financial issues with regard to burial and I’ve told the family services division to…give them the option of a burial grant once they are eligible. So that is being explored at this time,” she told Newsday in a WhatsApp voice note yesterday.

She noted the family has not been responsive to calls from the division but said it is understandable considering the trauma they are trying to process.

However, she said the services will be made available when the family is ready to accept.

While the division was reaching out to the immediate family, she said that impacted members of the Guanapo Heights community can also avail themselves of psychosocial support by contacting the division.

Northern Division Senior Superintendent Kerwin Francis in a voice note to Newsday assured that the police and TT Defence Force will continue 24-hour patrols in the community to ensure safety.

Meanwhile, Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly told Newsday the friends and teachers of the children victims are currently receiving support through the Student Support Services Division (SSSD).

Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, gunmen raided a Guanapo Heights, Arima home, shooting nine people. Of the four were killed, three were minors. The other five were taken to hospital.