Joseph Phillip was murdered outside Gulf City Mall in La Romaine in 2019. – Courtesy Joseph Phillip Jr
AFTER four years of confusion, pain and sadness – including an attempt on his own life – Joseph Phillip Jr’s only wish for Christmas is for his father’s killer to be found.
The 48-year-old strongly believes the murder was linked to greed and jealousy over money and other property.
His father, Joseph Phillip, was shot dead while sitting in a taxi outside the Gulf City Mall in La Romaine in 2019. He was 71.
After entering a San Fernando-bound taxi, a man walked up to him and fired several shots. The taxi driver was getting other passengers when Phillip was shot. The shooter then entered a Nissan Tiida, which drove off.
Phillip had recently returned to TT, his home country, after working for decades in the US. He specialised in customer service management. After retiring, he lived in Point Fortin in a house he spent ten years building.
Phillip Jr said he and his father were very close and that he was “everything to (him).
“He was my all. He is the one who raised me and took care of me.
“We would travel the world together. We used to do everything together. So around this holiday time, it’s just really sad because he is not here with me.”
Phillip had gone to spend time with his other son, Connor, at the mall on the day he died. Phillip Jr said usually at least one other family member would accompany his father whenever he visited Connor.
“And I find that to be very odd.”
He learnt of his father’s death after seeing a video of him bleeding out in the taxi on social media.
“He was still holding a black plastic bag in his hand and some money to pay the cab.
“I couldn’t believe it! I was hurt.”
He said his father worked very hard throughout his life and was hoping to relax and reap the benefits of that back at home.
“He came over to Brooklyn in the 70s and, long story short, moved from having just US$20 sleeping on the street and being homeless to building himself up over the years and being able to move to a predominantly rich neighbourhood.
“As a black man in the 70s in the US, that was a big deal.”
He said his father’s journey began after a shopkeeper offered him something to eat after noticing his situation, and he said he wanted to “pay it back” by working.
Phillip Jr added that his father was very giving, with many nicknaming him Santa Claus and Papa Smurf.
“He was always caring, and many people looked up to him. He’d always be carrying gifts for my cousins as well.”
When his father told him he was returning to TT, he did not want him to and warned that he (Jr) felt particular family members were using him for money.
“But I said, ‘If this is what will make my father happy, then okay. It doesn’t matter what I think.’
“I’m just really nervous and worried. I have no answers. I haven’t even been in TT for over 20 years (because of this).”
He said he has been trying to get answers from the San Fernando police but to no avail.
The most recent update he got earlier this year was that police were “working on obtaining (his father’s) file.”
He told Newsday, “I don’t understand why that is still on paper and not digitised by now.”
He said he is currently in hiding in the US after someone tried to assassinate him there in 2020.
“I just need some type of help, I just need some type of answers.
“They tried to kill me too after they learnt (of a) Joseph Phillip Jr – they shot at me in 2020, (I think) once this story comes out, they are going to try again.
“I’m not going to lie to you, every day it makes me really sad but I’m just trying to hold on.”
Newsday contacted police for an update on this case but there was no response up to press time.