Soldier charged with double murder in Pennywise heist

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this file photo, Ishmael Salaam leaves the San Fernando police station after he was released without charge on September 24. – Lincoln Holder

A 24-year-old soldier who had been detained in connection with the murder of two guards and robbery of an armed courier at Pennywise Super Centre, La Romaine in September was charged with the offences on Saturday.

Homicide detectives also charged Ishmael Salaam, of Fyzabad, with robbery with violence and two offences of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

A statement from the police said other people are expected to be charged alongside Salaam.

On September 19, a group of men opened fire on an Allied Security Ltd van transporting money as it exited the La Romaine compound. The men grabbed bags of cash and cheques before escaping in a car.

Two officers, Jeffrey Peters and Jerry Stuart, were killed and a third officer, Peola Baptiste, was critically injured. Two other people were shot but survived. They were transporting money collected from several businesses.

Police later cornered four of the suspects of Fyzabad – bothers Kyle Ramdhan, Keyon Ramdhan, Greg Dodough and Deaundre Montrose – at a house in Pond Street, La Romaine where they were killed. The police also recovered some of the money, guns, bulletproof vests and other items.

The soldier had initially told police the robbers hijacked him at La Romaine and stole his SUV as they switched getaway vehicles in La Romaine.

On September 24, the soldier was released from custody without charge after a week in police custody. The soldier is a member of TT Regiment is based at the La Romaine camp.

He was detained after he made a report to police on September 19 that his SUV was taken at gunpoint. The police also searched the soldier’s locker at the camp.

Police also charged three other men for two unrelated murders.

Dustin Diaz, 30, of Cunupia was charged on Saturday with the murder of Edwin “Conqueror” Joseph. Joseph was shot dead on June 7 at Petit Valley. Diaz was also charged with possession of firearm and ammunition offences.

On Friday, police charged Joel Fermin, 39, and his stepson Shaquille Rowley, 22, both of Romain Lands, Mon Repos, Morvant with the murder of 47-year-old Noel Fermin. Noel was shot on October 29 and later died at hospital.

Acting Commissioner of Police Mc Donald Jacob, in a statement on Saturday commended “the painstaking and meticulous work” of the homicide bureau “as they have gathered the evidence, arrested, and have charged four more suspects involved in various murders.”

“Over the last year a lot of emphasis has been placed on training and development of our homicide detectives. In October, officers participated in a week-long Advanced Homicide Investigations Training Programme, through a partnership with the US Embassy,” Jacob said.

Apart from enhancing the skills and expertise of detectives, he said, the police are also

utilising ballistic and forensic technologies to assist in solving these cases of homicide. He added, “while technology is important, the human element of investigations is crucial, so I reiterate the call to the public to say something when they see something.”