Young dad killed for gold chain: Father’s Day heartbreak

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Mickel Thomas was shot and killed on June 15 during a robbery in San Juan. His killer took the gold chain he was wearing before running off. –

Mickel Thomas’s family expected to spend Father’s Day at a community event the young father had been planning for weeks.

Instead, they spent the day trying to come to terms with Thomas’s violent murder during an early morning robbery on June 15.

Around 1.45 am on Saturday, Thomas, 28, of Laventille Road, San Juan, had just met his sister at a nightclub near Second Street, San Juan, to give her some money when he was accosted by a bandit.

The bandit tried to snatch Thomas’s gold chain, but he refused to give it up.

The two began to fight and the bandit took out a gun and shot Thomas twice in the stomach before grabbing the chain and running off.

People nearby heard the gunshots and raised an alarm.

One of Thomas’s friends went to the scene and found him still alive, lying on the pavement.

He stopped a passing car and asked the driver to take him and Thomas to the hospital. Thomas arrived at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex shortly after 2 am.

The sister he dropped money for was told about the shooting and went to the hospital,but he died before she arrived.

Thomas, a labourer at the San Juan Laventille Regional Corporation, was the father of a three-year-old boy.

He had planned a large Father’s Day lime in the community and later on Saturday, he was supposed to confirm some last-minute arrangements for the event. This would have been the third time he hosted the event, which he started the year his son Mikonnen was born.

When Newsday visited Thomas’s home on Laventille Road, San Juan on Sunday, the street was quiet as the event had been cancelled.

His girlfriend Elisha Daniel said she had not yet told their son what happened.

She screamed out in anger as tears streamed down her face.

“What they kill him for? A chain? That is what they kill him for? What I going and tell my child? My child is just three and I have to tell him his father dead for a chain!

“Just this morning, my son pick up my phone and watch my status and saying, ‘Daddy.’ What am I supposed to tell him?”

Daniel said Thomas began working when he was in secondary school and the chain his killer stole was the first piece of jewellery he ever bought.

“I know him forever with that chain. Since we together, back in school days, he bought that.

“He will go to school during the week and Saturdays and Sundays, he will go and do construction. That is how he buy that chain.”

His sister Sherene Thomas said the Father’s Day event had become a staple in the close-knit community thanks to Thomas.

From right, Elisha Daniel, girlfriend of murder victim Mickel Thomas, kisses her son Mikonnen Thomas at their home in San Juan as Mikel’s mother Nadlyn Thomas looks on. Thomas was murdered in San Juan on Saturday. – AYANNA KINSALE

“He will throw a lime for the children every Father’s Day. It was always about the children for him, never the adults. That is the kind of man my brother was. He was always looking out for people and for children in particular.”

She said Thomas always had a “business head” on his shoulder and was a dedicated father who always worked hard to provide for his son.

“He doing his thing since school days and always saving his money.”

She said he opened a car wash in the area as a means of increasing his income and providing an opportunity to keep young men in the community out of trouble.

“He registered it as an official business and pull some youth men from on the block and told them to come and work with him. He told them, ‘Do something with allyuh self because the street life ent saying nothing.’”

She said despite his age, he behaved like a mature father figure and was always looking for opportunities to provide a better life for himself, his son and others around him.

“He even bought a lot of abandoned land lower down the street and said he could open a little park for the children in the street. He always on making money or doing something to push the youths and keep them active.”

She said Thomas was loved in the community.

“He was a darling. Every Good Friday, he has a children’s event and he did the same thing for his birthday. He always said he ent spoiling no big man with alcohol so he was always about the children. He used to give away copybooks, pencils, pens and stationery.”

Thomas was the last of 14 children and his mother Nadlyn Thomas told Newsday she could hardly sleep since his death.

“It not easy. If you walk from here to the end of Laventille Road and ask anybody about Mickel, they will tell you the same thing. He is never in any kind of stupidness.

“He always pushing people to make money and not to skylark. He liked positivity and to see people do good things. That is what he believed in.”

She said she had been flooded with calls from people offering their condolences.

Nadlyn Thomas called on parents who know their children are involved in a life of crime to do the right thing.

She noted someone’s failure to raise their child the right way meant her grandson would never again celebrate Father’s Day with his dad.

“Talk to your children and tell them the right things. Some of them know their children doing wrong things and they are picking up for them. But oh gosh, talk to allyuh children nah.”

She also urged the criminals to leave that life behind if they want to raise their children right.

“Change that. That is not the right thing. What are you teaching your child? What you could possibly teach your child doing that kind of job?”

Sherene Thomas said she hopes she would see justice for her brother’s death but lamented the crime situation.

“It’s one set of hungry bandits out here. You grabbing people chain and killing them for it and you don’t even know if the chain is real. You could be killing somebody for costume jewellery. It is ridiculous out here.

“This crime thing out of hand. Is like a man’s life has no value. You see a man and you shoot him for a chain?”

She praised the police, who she said have been in constant contact with them and have been giving them regular updates about the investigation.

She said despite their pain and grief, the family is comforted by the knowledge that the police were doing everything in their power, including using technology, to find Thomas’s killer and arrest him.

Daniel, meanwhile, is trying to focus on raising her son and finding a way to heal but is still unable to cope with the reason he died.

“Is years, 14 years, I was with him. We had fights and ups and downs and we never let go each other. I not going and see him again. That is my first love, my everything, and allyuh take him from me for a chain – a chain!”