Man killed while defending family during home invasion

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Akeem Ralph, 26, who was murdered during a home invasion in Valley View, Pinto Road, Arima on February 24, 2023 –

Akeem Ralph’s relatives say he was shot dead while defending his family during a home invasion.

Ralph was shot by several men who broke into his home in Valley View, Pinto Road, Arima, around 2 am on Saturday.

Police said Ralph was awakened by someone knocking on his front door and upon checking, he saw three gunmen in camouflage clothing.

The men called out to Ralph and demanded he hand over a gun they said he had.

When Ralph refused to respond and let them into the house, the men used a crowbar to try to open the door.

Relatives say he told his girlfriend to stay inside the bedroom with their three-month-old daughter.

Ralph left the bedroom and went to confront the men who were breaking into the house.

Shortly after, there was a scuffle and gunshots rang out.

Police officers on patrol responded to the shooting and found Ralph’s body on the ground near the door with multiple gunshot wounds.

His girlfriend and their baby were left unharmed by the suspects, who fled after shooting Ralph.

Speaking to the media at the Forensic Science Centre in St James, his family said he was killed doing what a man is supposed to do.

“A man supposed to defend their family at the end of the day no matter what…They come with a crowbar and they prise open the door. He had to defend his family so he get up and he fight back but he get overcome because it was more than one (assailant). He had no choice.”

“I don’t know if they could have tangled with him but he gave them a fight and they shoot him.”

One relative dismissed claims on social media that Ralph was involved in a life of crime.

The relative said while Ralph had his legal troubles when he was younger, now he was focused on being a father.

“He was so happy to be a father. Just last Monday, he went and register his daughter’s birth.”

“He is naturally a quiet person. He get in his little troubles and thing. As a youth man growing up, he get in his little troubles with the law but he was really just a quiet person.”

“They say they come for some gun or something but he didn’t have no gun,” the relative added.

The family say while it is hard to deal with his death, they have accepted that “anything is possible” in TT nowadays, given the current crime situation.

“The way how things going here, you have to expect anything. If you ent expect anything, you can’t really keep up.”

A male relative said the government, the police and the justice system are all to blame for the state of crime in TT.

“Somehow I feel the law, the police and the government make this thing escalate too far, right? They should have pick up on this from early and look to stop it. Especially with the set of guns that coming in.”

He said crime has escalated over the past two decades and said not enough has been done to address it.

“Since after 1990, with that coup is when crime started to escalate in this country. Look at how much years ago (that happened). And you’re telling me that since that time to now they make crime escalate so much. Something could have been done in that time.”

He claimed an ineffective justice system and misplaced priorities by those in authority caused TT to be where it is now.

“It’s corruption. Corruption not only with the police but the whole justice system. They have the place like this. You can’t blame people in the society. It’s only money they’re studying to make. They not studying the safety of the people.”

Despite the scathing criticism levelled at the police, the relative said he would let them do their job.

Asked if he had any words for the gunmen responsible for his relative’s death, the man described them as “illiterate and senseless” and urged them to “think first before they act.”

“A set of unnecessary thing you will look to kill people for. What you will get out of it? You ent get nothing.”