[UPDATED] Penal father shields toddler in deadly gun attack

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Janelle Garcia shows the area where a gunman shot and killed her son through a window on March 2. – Rishard Khan

A two-year-old narrowly escaped injury on Friday night after relatives believed her father shielded her from bullets while she was asleep at their Smart Avenue, Lachoos Road, Penal home.

The child was with her father, Dwayne Pierre, 26, when relatives said they heard about 20 loud explosions around 1.30 am.

The shooter/s stood outside Pierre’s bedroom window and fired repeatedly with what is believed to be an automatic rifle. Several bullet casings which appeared to be 5.56 ammunition were found outside the broken window.

One discharged round was still lodged between a bundle of corrugated steel on the ground.

The injuries on Dwayne Pierre’s two-year-old daughter’s hand. – Rishard Khan

After forcing his way into Pierre’s apartment, a relative told Newsday he found him hunched over his daughter with bullet wounds in his back. The toddler was taken to the Siparia District Health Facility where she was treated for a wound on her right hand. She was later discharged and reunited with her family. She was seen playing with her cousins when reporters visited Pierre’s home on Saturday.

“Daddy dead?” she asked several times as relatives showed reporters where the incident occurred.

Pierre’s mother, Janelle Garcia, 46, said the child was aware her father had died.

“In between she talking and saying certain things,” Garcia said.

Dwayne Pierre, 26, who was gunned down at Smart Avenue, Lachoos Road, Penal. –

Garcia the shooting incident was granddaughter’s second brush with death. Three years ago before she was born, gunmen opened fire on her then-pregnant mother while she was standing in the gallery. A bullet struck the woman in the abdomen, forcing doctors to induce labour.

Garcia said in that incident the bullet went through her daughter-in-law and struck her 15-year-old nephew who was standing nearby. Both survived the incident.

Almost a year later, she said gunmen ambushed her daughter-in-law while she was walking along the road with Pierre and she was again shot in the abdomen. A few months later, Garcia said, gunmen drove past the home, opening fire but luckily no one was hurt.

“I don’t know what they have with my children. Certain times you lie down sleeping and they pass and shoot up the house…about 17, 18 bullets. It have about 20 children living here. I don’t know where it coming from (the attacks),” she said

Garcia said her daughter-in-law had since returned to her home country of Jamaica, leaving her daughter in Pierre’s care.

A spent shell from the attack that killed Dwyane Pierre, 26, outside his bedroom window. – Rishard Khan

Pierre’s sister, Kayla, said her brother was not involved in any mischief. She said he was focused on making a better life for his daughter and spent most of his time trying to build a parlour at the front of the house so he could support her when she returned to live with her mother around Easter.

“He don’t be in nothing with nobody. He’s just be home. He alone put up this (the parlour). He putting this up for his daughter. He working hard…he taking care of her,” she said.

Confused by the attacks, Garcia wondered if her son’s murder had anything to do with the previous attacks on her daughter-in-law. However, regardless of the motive, they believe the attacker or attackers were familiar with the area and Pierre’s schedule.

“So it’s not no stranger. It have to be people from around. Allyuh come by the man window and start to shoot,” Kayla said.

Garcia fondly recalled lying on the bed with granddaughter and Pierre as he spoke to his wife on the phone making plans for them to visit her in Jamaica in a few weeks.

With no arrests made in the two previous shootings, Garcia said the family is now placing their faith in God to deliver justice for her son. She also called for more police patrols in the area.

In an unrelated incident, a man identified as Ziggy Lezama was shot dead near his Foster Road, Sangre Grande home on Friday night.

According to reports, the 29-year-old man was at home around 7 pm when someone called out to him. He went outside and gunshots were heard soon after.

The police received a report of a body on the road and found Lezama unresponsive with several gunshot wounds to his body.

Police are continuing investigations.

This story was updated with additional details. The original story is below.

A two-year-old girl was injured early Saturday morning when her father was shot dead in his Latchoos Road, Penal home.

Police identified the dead man as Dwayne “Branker” Pierre, 26, a labourer.

His sister, 28, told police around 1.40 several loud explosions were heard before relatives found Pierre’s body in his bedroom.

His daughter had injuries to her right hand and was taken to the Siparia District Health Facility.

Doctors told police the injuries may have been from a fall.

Police found several spent shells outside the window of Pierre’s apartment and the glass was shattered.

Police believe the incident was fuelled by revenge.

PC Barran is continuing investigations.