Soldier held in Pennywise robbery released without charge

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Ishmael Salaam leaves the San Fernando Police Station on Saturday after five days in custody linked to the deadly Pennywise heist on September 19. – Lincoln Holder

After a week in police custody, the 24-year-old soldier held in connection with the deadly heist in La Romaine on Monday has been released without charge.

Ishmael Salaam had been deemed a “person of interest,” was seen leaving the San Fernando police station at around 3 pm on Saturday with two plastic bags.

When approached, the Fyzabad resident said, “I have no comment.”

One of his attorneys, Jade Martinez, confirmed that at 1.55 pm her client was allowed to leave the police station.

No further information was given. Salaam, a member of TT Regiment is based at the La Romaine camp, was also represented by attorneys Criston J Williams and Blaine Sobrian.

Salaam had been in custody since Monday evening when he went to the station to report that armed men stole his Nissan X-Trail SUV at gunpoint in La Romaine. The police also searched the soldier’s locker at the camp.

On Thursday, the attorneys filed a writ of habeas corpus seeking to have their client released.

The hearing came up in the High Court on Friday when Justice Devindra Rampersad gave police a 2 pm deadline on Saturday to decide on the soldier’s fate.

The attorneys contended that it was unconstitutional for the police to detain their client for days without charge.

In response, the police had submitted that the soldier’s detention was not arbitrary and was instead reasonable and justified.

Before Friday’s hearing, investigators met with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions representatives. The police were expected to have an identification parade, and the judge adjourned the case to Saturday.

The soldier was one of five people detained.

The four suspects, two from Arouca and two from Pleasantville, are still in custody without charge on Saturday evening.

Shortly after 5 pm on Monday at Pennywise Super Centre, gunmen men ambushed and shot at a pick up with three security guards employed with Allied Security Ltd, hitting them before grabbing bags of cash.

Jeffery Peters, 51, and Jerry “Bat” Stuart, 49, died. Their colleague Peola Baptiste, 57, remained critically wounded at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mount Hope up to Saturday.

They were transporting money collected from several businesses.

The police said Allister Harris, 47, who works with Phoenix Protective Services at the plaza, was also hit. He received minor injuries and was treated and discharged on Monday.

A bullet grazed a nine-year-old boy from Siparia during a police chase of the bandits. His injuries are not life-threatening, and he was still at the San Fernando General Hospital.

The gunmen left in a car, and the soldier reported that while on a road off the M2 Ring Road in La Romaine, gunmen robbed him at gunpoint of his SUV.

The bandits burnt their car and fled in his van, he reported.

But the police caught up with them and cornered them at a house. A shootout ensued, which left four men from Fyzabad dead.

The dead men were Greg Dodough, Deaundre Montrose, and brothers Kyle and Keyon Ramdhan. The police also recovered the money, guns, bulletproof vests and other items.

Kyle was on bail charged with attempted murder in the Siparia Magistrates’ Court.

On April 25, Keyon survived a shooting that claimed the life of Hakeem “Skinny” Peters, 25, of Lezama Trace, South Oropouche.

Keyon was as reversing a Nissan Versa car out of the family’s yard at Delhi Road, Fyzabad, where gunmen ambushed them.

Peters died in the front passenger, and the car crashed near a concrete drain. Keyon was also hit.

The parents of Dodough and Montrose have condemned their children actions. The parents said they were unaware that their children were involved in any illegal activities. Dodough and Montrose do not have any criminal records.

The parents also apologised to the security officers’ families and offered condolences.

Investigations are ongoing.