Relatives claim Gonzales man killed by police was hunted

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

KILLED: Celestine Richards. –

HOURS before he was shot dead by police on Friday, Gonzales, Port of Spain resident Celestine Richards allegedly told his girlfriend he had a feeling he was going to be killed by them. About 15 minutes later, he shared with a flyer advertising a peace walk to be held in the area later that day.

The uneasy feeling Richards had was shared by his mother Gail Jack who told reporters her eye was twitching, but she “rebuked it.”

Police said officers assigned to the Port of Spain Task Force went, at around 9 am, to 31-year-old Richards’s Walcott Trace home in relation to several shootings in the area.

They said when they arrived, Richards allegedly had a gun. But before he could fire at them, he was shot and taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital where he was declared dead 45 minutes later.

Speaking with reporters at her son’s girlfriend’s home, Jack accused police of wanting to kill her son for some time. She and Richards’s girlfriend, who did not want to be identified, said police were jealous of Richards who worked with CEPEP and was a jack of all trades.

The house where Celestine Richards was shot and killed by police at Walcott Trace, Gonzales on Thursday. – AYANNA KINSALE

“What they was supposed to do was shoot him on his foot, not shoot him in his chest. I want the Commissioner of Police to come to me so I can say what I have to say, because this is not it.”

The women said Richards did not venture out of the area, so police wanting him in connection with murders was unfounded.

Jack said Richards, who was known as “Six” and “Dutties,” was loved by all in the community, especially the elderly.

Relatives, when questioned about the alias Six, as that is the name of a gang, said, “Is young boys. They does feel to associate themselves with all kinda crazy names.”

Newsday saw the words ABG, which stands for Any Body Gets It, a known gang, and the number six, another gang, spray-painted on different places leading to Richards’ home.

One of the elderly with whom Richards had a great relationship was Viola Belgrove, 92, who said she cried when she heard he was killed. She said Richards and her would chat whenever he was around, and their conversations were “always something sensible.”

“Sometimes he will be in the road and we will chat or he will come by the steps there. I used to buy a bucket of chicken for them,they would offer me but I did not use to eat it.”

She recalled speaking to Richards a few days ago and to her he was “very nice.” She added that everyone has their secrets, but as far as she knew Richards was a good man.

Richards’s relatives claimed police went looking for him last Friday, found another man at his home and allegedly beat and pepper-sprayed him. That man, they said, was Micah Cipriani, 34, who was murdered on Monday evening.

Cipriani, who lived at Roslyn Street, Belmont, was shot at about 6 pm. Police reported they received a report of gunshots in the area and found Cipriani along Margaret’s Lane with gunshot wounds. He was taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital where he was declared dead at about 6.45 pm.

Richards, police said, was wanted in connection with the murder of Rassan Richardson who was murdered on August 9. Police reported he was driving on Gloster Lodge Road, Gonzales, when he was shot by a fake passenger. The killer ran off and left the dying Richardson near an area called Lovers’ Lane. He was also arrested in May in relation to another murder in the area.