[UPDATED] Man gunned down at Queen’s Park Savannah

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Relatives of Akil Archer look on as police process the scene of his murder at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Sunday. – ROGER JACOB

WITH just over a month to Carnival, the tranquillity of the Queen’s Park Savannah was shattered on Sunday by the daylight assassination of a young labourer working as part of a crew to erect booths for vendors, casting a shadow over the coming festivities.

A young man identified as Akil Archer was shot dead by four gunmen bearing high-powered automatic rifles on Sunday afternoon at Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

Newsday understands the victim had been working in a team for the National Carnival Commission (NCC) to erect vendors booths for Carnival.

He was said to be roughly in his late twenties and a resident of Laventille.

Reports were that Archer was one of four men in the tray of a truck which was transporting materials from the Grandstand to the Paddock area of the savannah to erect booths near at about 1.20 pm. Suddenly, a white pick-up van swerved in front of the truck, to cut it off. Four men jumped out of the pick-up brandishing guns.

Relatives of Akil Archer look on as police process the scene of his murder at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Sunday. – ROGER JACOB

The labourers in the truck leapt out and fled in all directions. The gunmen chased and killed Archer a few metres away in a grassy patch between booths.

When Newsday arrived an hour later, Archer still lay on the ground where he was killed. He was clad in black, as police officers, undertakers and the district medical officer tended the scene.

An elderly male and female relative stood nearby.

Several of Archers young relatives and friends arrived a bit later, one woman weeping loudly, comforted by a male companion/relative.

At one point, an anguished young woman ran past the police cordon, demarcated in yellow tape, to try to see the body, only to be restrained by the police shouting loudly at her as they maintained the integrity of the active crime scene.

One onlooker told Newsday, “It was a very scary thing, boy. I felt like I was watching a movie.” He said witnessing the event had left him solely with the thought of wanting to get home to hug his grandchildren.

One commentator said, after the incident, he expected the NCC to soon meet with contractors to discuss security arrangements for booths at the savannah.

He said he had heard one contractor say he was quitting the project after the shock of the killing.

The murder came after contractors last year complained about harassment and attempted extortion by criminal gangs.

The killing of a man involved in pre-Carnival construction activities in broad daylight at lunchtime on a Sunday near the busy road at the south of the savannah, certainly raised security concerns for the venue which will be at the heart of a month of activities for the Carnival season.

These savannah-based activities range from next Sunday’s National Junior Panorama Finals through to the king/queen and calypso finals at Dimanche Gras on February 11, and the Parade of Bands on February 12-13.

NCC security officers walk past the brown truck Akil Archer was travelling in before he was blocked then chased, shot and killed at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Sunday. – ROGER JACOB

On Sunday, Newsday sought answers as to whether the murder would put a damper on attendance at Carnival activities by locals and tourists, fruitlessly.

Newsday tried but was unable to contact Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell, National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters, Port of Spain Mayor Chinua Alleyne, Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey, and Police Commissioner Erla Christopher-Haywood.

The savannah shooting follows recent shooting deaths in several busy and high-profile venues, including Ariapita Avenue in Port of Spain, Courts Megastore car park, and the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway near Spring Village. The number of murders for 2024 is estimated at 14 deaths.

The police on Sunday confirmed other murders over the weekend.

Bar owner/CEPEP contractor Vickram Ramlal, 48, of Pasea Main Road, Tunapuna was shot dead in a bar on Pasea Road by a lone gunman.

On Saturday the decomposing body of Keith Downes, 77, of Sangre Grande was found in his two-bedroom wooden house, reports being he was last seen alive on Christmas Day.

On Saturday at about 6.55 pm, Shekell George, 24, of Belle Eau Road, Belmont, was walking along that road to go to sell a waterpik water flosser. A black Nissan X-Trail pulled up. Several men alighted, armed with firearms and shot George dead.

The gunmen re-entered the vehicle and drove off, in what the police had termed a gang-related incident.

Truck driver Adrian Statham, 44, of Longdenville, was at home in his unfinished house with a friend at 9.30 pm on Saturday when he was shot dead by a man in black, his hands being bound.

This story has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.

A young man identified as Akil Archer was shot dead by four gunmen bearing high-powered automatic rifles on Sunday afternoon at Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

Newsday understands the victim was a labourer working in a team for the National Carnival Commission (NCC) to erect vendors’ booths for Carnival.

He was said to be roughly in his late twenties and a resident of Laventille.

Reports were that Archer was one of four men in the tray of a truck which was transporting materials from the Grand Stand to the Paddock area of the savannah to erect booths at about 1.20 pm. Suddenly, a white pick-up van swerved in front of the truck, to cut it off. Four men jumped out of the pick-up brandishing guns.

The labourers in the truck leapt out and fled in all directions. The gunmen chased and killed Archer a few metres away in a grassy patch between booths.

When Newsday arrived an hour later, Archer still lay on the ground where he had been killed. He was clad in black, as police officers, undertakers and the district medical officer attended the scene.

An elderly male and female relative stood nearby. Several of Archer’s young relatives and friends arrived a bit later, one woman weeping loudly.

At one point, an anguished young woman ran past the police cordon, demarcated in yellow tape, to try to see the body, only to be restrained by the police at the active crime scene.

One onlooker told Newsday, “It was a very scary thing, boy. I felt like I was watching a movie.”

One commentator said, that after the incident, he expected the NCC soon to discuss security arrangements for booths at the Savannah.