Pamberi laments break in 42 years of panyard’s positivity

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The scene at Pamberi Panyard, San Juan where Steffon Garrick was killed on Tuesday. – Photo by – ANGELO MARCELLE

A FORTY-TWO-YEAR stretch of “uninterrupted positivity and community empowerment” was disrupted at the Pamberi Steel Orchestra’s panyard on Santa Cruz Old Road, San Juan, on Monday, when a man was killed and two others wounded in a shooting incident.

The orchestra’s management issued a statement on Tuesday, saying while there was no connection between the shooting and the orchestra or any of its members, “the fact that it occurred in our panyard space strikes at the core of our existence and projection.”

The orchestra, it said, must now implement security measures, with the help of San Juan police.

At around 4.30 pm on Monday, police on patrol responded to reports of gunfire at the Pamberi panyard, where they found Steffon “Turtle” Garrick, 40, and two other men – one who is reportedly homeless, and another who lives in the area – bleeding from gunshot wounds and other injuries.

A police crime scene investigator gathers evidence after one man was killed and two others wounded during a gun attack at Pamberi’s panyard, Santa Cruz Old Road, San Juan on Monday. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Garrick was pronounced dead at the scene, and the other men were taken to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex.

Newsday visited the panyard shortly after the shooting, while police and forensic experts were processing the scene.

A number of the orchestra’s members and residents quickly gathered, and several were overheard speaking about an increase of illegal activities taking place in and around the panyard, which also houses a preschool. One resident said a police inspector was previously called to the panyard to remove unwelcome visitors.

Pamberi Orchestra’s statement said while the panyard has historically been a community space, “changes will be instituted to ensure that the band’s core mandates of music, youth and community empowerment can be implemented in a safe and enabling environment.

“Pamberi also acknowledges it will take time and tangible proactive measures to rebuild confidences that have been compromised by such a serious and tragic incident.

“Our 42 years of battling against the odds and prevailing, gives us the confidence we can meet this challenge and emerge stronger for it.

“At this time, however, we will need the support of all of our very many friends, supporters and collaborators and we will be reaching out to you in short order to discuss ways in which we can transform tragedy into triumph.”

The orchestra used the opportunity to urge TT’s youth to “press the pause button, take a longer view of whatever immediate daily challenges they face and resist the temptation to give in to the types of reflex actions that are cutting short too many young lives.”