The site at which PC Clarence Gilkes was shot in Rich Plain, Diego Martin on Friday. – ANGELO MARCELLE
Even as residents of Upper Rich Plain Road, Diego Martin, showed scepticism over the official police report in the death of PC Clarence Gilkes, officers of various police units continued their search for a man believed to be a suspect in the shooting.
Police said officers from the Western Division searched several areas in Diego Martin and Chaguaramas for the man with assistance from the Defence Force.
Several homes were also searched since the incident on Friday afternoon.
When Newsday visited the area on Sunday afternoon, residents pointed to the place on the staircase where Gilkes was shot.
The staircase which consists of two curves forming an ‘S’ shape is bordered by an empty lot on one side and two houses on the other.
None of the houses in the area were equipped with any security cameras.
Newsday spoke with residents who admitted, while they only heard the gunfire, they doubted the officers were shot at first, noting the superior numbers and weaponry of the police.
“We are accustomed to hearing gunshots in this area so we didn’t think too much of it when we heard it on Friday afternoon.
“Look at the kind of houses around here, there won’t be too much security cameras or anything like that.
“I joke and tell people that the reflection in the car windows is the closest thing I have to a security camera.
“I think a lot of people doubt the official story because it’s unusual given the layout of the area where the shooting happened.
“It’s almost to say: one man was able to shoot this officer in his neck and run away unharmed without any other officers getting hit. He has to be a really good marksman.”
While speaking with Newsday, another resident who asked not to be named said, since the incident, officers have shown increased hostilities to residents and feared that it could damage community relations with the police.
“I was confused when I heard the Police Commissioner say the officer’s death was a declaration of war, because it implies that you are at war with someone.
“In that case who are you at war with? The community? The Muslims? Who exactly?
“The sad part is that the police never had very good relations with people here in the first place but how they barge into people’s homes and ransack it isn’t making it much better.”
Newsday also spoke with a relative of the man being sought by the police who claimed her home was searched repeatedly by heavily armed officers since Gilkes’ death on Friday afternoon.
She said while she was in Chaguanas at the time of the incident she was told from others that the officers were not shot at.
She said while the man would be willing to surrender to the police, it should be done under certain conditions to ensure that he would not be harmed.
“They (police) don’t want him to surrender, they want to kill him.
“He can give up himself but not to any police from the Western Division, they have to find a safe place to get him from wherever he is to there with his attorney and the media.”