Tobago cop among 3 killed: 529 murders equals 2008 record

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Kyle Lashley –

YVONNE WEBB AND COREY CONNELLY

The shooting deaths of a special reserve police officer in Tobago and two Diego Martin men have taken the murder toll to 529, equalling this country’s murder record in 2008.

Initial information said PC Kyle Lashley was shot dead during a drive-by at Les Coteaux on Saturday. This is the 10th murder in Tobago for the year.

Lashley, who had fewer than five years of service, was shot shortly after 7 pm. He sitting with a group of men when a car pulled up alongside them. Two men came out of the car and fired several shots at the group.

Lashley fell to the ground and was taken to the Scarborough General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

In an unrelated incident, another man identified as Kurtis Smith, of Upper La Puerta, Diego Martin, was gunned down at the entrance of Starbucks at Sun Plaza, Munroe Road, Cunupia around 4 pm.

Customers and staff were inside the cafe when two masked men shot Smith multiple times near the entrance.

Commenting on the Cunupia incident, Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally condemned the brazen acts of criminality across TT.

He said this leaves no neighbourhood safe.

“It is clear that the continued incompetence and ineffectiveness of this PNM administration to combat the criminal element in our society is having a disastrous consequence for our country and citizens.”

“The longer this failed PNM government remains in office, the greater the threat will be on the safety of all citizens,” Rambally said.

On Friday night, a 45-year-old man was shot and killed on Diego Martin.

According to the police, Leslie “Paco” Downes, of River Estate, Diego Martin, and a 32-year-old man were standing by a pavilion near the River Estate Basketball Court when, around 8.15 pm, gunmen approached them and opened fire.

Downes, a taxi driver, was shot several times while the other man was shot in his back.

The men were taken to the St James Medical Facility where Downes died.

The other man is said to be warded at the hospital in stable condition.

In an unrelated incident, a bandit received a bullet to his head after he and two armed accomplices robbed a San Fernando supermarket of several bottles of alcohol and cash shortly before 4 pm on Saturday.

An armed security guard intervened as the men were fleeing and shot one of the men who fell between the entrance of Just In Time Family Mart Supermarket, at Cipero Street, and a parked vehicle on the entrance.

Police have not yet released the identity of the dead man.

The two men men escaped and San Fernando police mounted a manhunt for them last night.

A few bottles of vodka, whiskey, champagne and rum were recovered outside the supermarket, along with a back pack. The items were bagged as part of the evidence by crime scene unit officers.

The street was cordoned off as Southern Division police, homicide bureau investigators and crime scene unit investigators gathered evidence at the scene.

A district medical officer declared the man dead before his body was removed.

President of the Greater San Fernando Chamber Kiran Singh spoke to the media at the scene of the Cipero Street incident.

He said businesses on Cipero Street were now beginning to be reinvigorated and it was unfortunate these criminal acts were becoming a deterrent to business expansion. He said the supermarket opened just about a year ago, and this investment was a sign for businesses to increase and fill the spaces which have been empty for the past two years.

He said it was also frightening the age of the individuals who were turning to a life of crime instead of a more positive alternative.

He shuddered at their brazenness to attack the supermarket, “in broad daylight.”

“It is unfortunate that there is another robbery of a business place in San Fernando. One was shot and killed, but two young individuals got away. Luckily there was armed security on the compound.

“They came to acquire alcohol with guns. It is sad that crime is once again rearing its ugly head in San Fernando. It has brought shock to us again. A supermarket running an honest business, to earn an honest living and procure employment in the city of San Fernando.

“In broad daylight a shooting has occurred and a youth has lost his life. This creates a damper in the confidence of business people and citizens who traverse the streets throughout the country.

“It is the Christmas season and a time when business people see a return on their investments.”

What is going to happen now, he asked, “when on a daily basis crime is happening with armed intentions and fatalities occur.”