Relatives of mother, daughter killed in Shorelands: We are angry

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Caskets bearing the bodies of Carmelita Deleon and Calida Schamber are loaded into hearses at the Church of Nativity, Crystal Stream in Diego Martin Tuesday January 9, 2024. – Photo by Faith Ayoung

Relatives of Carmelita De Leon and Calida Schamber on Tuesday remembered them as beacons of strength in the family.

The mother and daughter, who were shot dead in their Shorelands home last Tuesday, were laid to rest after a memorial service at Church of the Nativity in Crystal Stream, Diego Martin.

A 48-year-old soldier remains the main suspect in their killing.

Delivering a tribute, Carmelita’s sons, Lyle, Anthony and Andre Schamber, said their mother and their sister formed “the foundation on which our familial bonds flourish.”

Describing them as architects of virtue, they said both women inspired people to be better and only ever asked for that their gifts of love to “be paid forward.”

The brothers said De Leon and Schamber left a legacy of selflessness, resilience and love that will endure through the annals of time.

Schamber’s daughter Caille Schamber-Pilgrim described her mother and grandmother’s deaths as a tragedy.

She said the violent act has left five people without a mother, three brothers without a sister and a husband without his wife and soulmate.

Schamber-Pilgrim said while it hurts not to have her mother around, it hurts even more to know that Schamber will miss out on so many aspects of her children’s lives.

“We both have so much ahead of us that we now can’t physically experience with her. It hurts me knowing that my brother won’t get to remember how amazing it is to have a mother like Calida.”

Schamber-Pilgrim said she wished she had had more time with her mother and promised to “strive with my greatest ability to remember all you have taught me and apply those lessons for the rest of my life.”

De Leon’s husband, former president of the Trinidad and Tobago Contractors Association Hugh Schamber, said the family remains angry over their deaths.

“The best part of our family has been ripped from our lives in the most horrid and sudden way. We are angry, we are confused, we are empty.”

He thanked everyone who had supported the family throughout their grieving.

“This outpouring of love has truly been overwhelming, and possibly the simplest way to give testament to the quality of these two beautiful women and the impact they have made on all of our lives.”

Delivering the homily, Fr Urban Hudlin suggested their deaths were the result of an evil that plagues society. He said while the word evil conjures images of devilish beings, it can take even simpler forms.

“What we face right now, everything, whatever seeks to destroy human capacity, everything that decimates human potential, anything that seeks to extinguish life and disrupts God’s creation in the world, is evil. Violence is evil.”

He said the public has become desensitised to violence with only a few crimes evoking “sighs in our bellies” and screams “from the very womb of TT.”

Hudlin noted the public calls to address violence towards women and agreed, saying it should be rooted out.

“All violence inflicted on women is a desecration of all that is good and true and wholesome. The Holy Father says…we can understand our level of humanity by the way in which we celebrate motherhood and femininity.”

He warned relatives and loved ones of the dangers of wanting to respond to Schamber and De Leon’s deaths with violence.

“That’s not the way. That’s not a Christian way.

“Tempting though it is, it is not the way. Somehow or another, we know that all is in God’s hands. We know that God has God’s own time. To be able to muster peace deep within, to be able to say to ourselves, yes, this is horrible, this is awful, this is a degradation. But somehow or another, I know that my God and my redeemer lives.”

The suspect, a warrant officer II in the TT Regiment, was arrested when he was found walking along Blanchisseuse Road, Arima, hours after the attack. He remains in custody as homicide investigators continue their investigation.