Tourists dine hours after fatal Breakfast Shed shooting

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Crime scene investigators collecting evidence at the Breakfast Shed on Wrightson Road, Port of Spain after one man was killed and another injured after gunmen attacked them on Monday morning. – File photo

TOURISTS on Tuesday were out in their numbers enjoying local dishes and the waterfront’s cooling sea breeze at the Breakfast Shed on Wrightson Road, unaware of a Monday-morning shooting that killed one man and left another hospitalised.

Newsday visited the shed and spoke to a vendor, who did not wish to be identified for her own safety. The vendor said other businesses within the past few months have asked for an increase in police presence and working security cameras.

She said lighting is also an issue.

“Most of us are out prepping for the morning rush before 5 am and the place is dark. Sunday they started to fix the lights.”

Newsday saw exposed wiring and unfinished lighting outlets on the ceiling. The vendor said there is a secretary from the Urban Development Corporation (Udecott) whom they liaise with, but little is done.

She said tenants feel unsafe, but are hopeful after Monday’s shooting, officials will now address their safety concerns.

While she acknowledged the crowd of tourists dining, she said there are usually more people and believes the lack of locals is due to Monday’s shooting.

Newsday spoke to a worker at the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Ministry who was having lunch. The San Juan resident said he was not surprised by the shooting, as the area has turned into a liming spot for questionable people.

He believes a greater police presence may deter criminals from the shed and harsher penalties overall for serious crimes will help the country.

“There are people serving long sentences for minor crimes, but people who are charged with guns and for murder are getting bail.”

He says the police need to do more to infiltrate gangs and steer young people away from becoming members. He said healthy and respectful communication between the police and the public will build trust and make citizens feel comfortable giving the police information about crime in their neighbourhood.

Referring to a viral 40-second clip of an officer at the St Joseph Police Station and an unidentified man who called asking for help after a home invasion who was scolded by the officer, he said, “Everybody knows who the criminals are in their area, but people don’t trust the police, especially now after how that officer talked to that man like a dog.”

Also enjoying a meal at the shed was a 25-year-old judicial worker who gave her name only as Kayla. She commented on the poor local turnout: “There are usually so many more workers out here during this hour, but I think everyone is nervous. What’s more concerning is how many government offices we have here and they don’t have a mobile police unit.”

She questioned the increased police patrols on Tuesday.

“Is it for show? Why only after the crime do they come out in their number?”

A man who was enjoying a cold beer and did not wish to be identified, but gave his profession as accountant, said the Commissioner of Police, Erla Harewood-Christopher, needs to do more groundwork or step down.

He said the Minister of National Security, Fitzgerald Hinds, should bring back the death penalty, and believes crime cannot be controlled because of the economic hardship people are facing and the lack of jobs.

“There are too many corrupt officers for crime to be reduced. They are doing crime and when they are caught, their same ‘batch’ is investigating them. If the government wants to win the next election, they need to make serious changes.”

All three people were asked about the two men shot on Monday, but said they did not know Omar Hunte, who died, but were familiar with Curtis Extavour, whom they called “Smiley,” saying he was hardworking, and always cheerful and respectful.

Plainclothes officers were also observed at the Breakfast Shed on Tuesday, interviewing people and examining the area.

On Monday, two gunmen started shooting at the shed around 5.20 am, killing 39-year-old Hunte, from Dibe Road, Long Circular, St James and injuring 61-year-old Extavour, an independent labourer from East Dry River.