'Ashmeed had golden heart'

McDonald’s Cipriani Boulevard, Port-of-Spain branch manager Ashmeed Mohammed, 38, begged for his life before gunmen shot him three times on Sunday night.

The last words heard by Mohammed’s colleagues were, “Oh God, no…no…no.” Three gunshots were then heard.

Investigators have described Mohammed’s murder as a “hit”, but up to press time were yet to determine a motive for his killing.

However, Mohammed’s co-workers, family and friends ultimately believe it was his kind-heartedness that led to his murder.

An initial police report stated that shortly after 11 pm on Sunday, Mohammed heard a knock on the door of the restaurant, which was already closed for the night, opened it and was accosted by three armed men. The men backed him up into the restaurant and as he begged for his life shot him three times. The gunmen then escaped in a white Tiida motorcar.

Mohammed lived at Melago, Vega de Oropouche, Sangre Grande.

But in a voice note sent to the T&T Guardian, a weeping woman gave a slightly different account. She claimed Mohammed was called outside by someone riding a bicycle.

“He (Mohammed) does normally help people around with food. If you come and hungry he would have given them food, but it look like they called him out and I don’t know if they asked him for food but like he came back in the store to go to his bag for money and when he went back out we just hear ‘O God, no…no..no, please. I don’t know if one of them hit him with a piece of wood and when he ran back inside they followed him and shoot him but I don’t know, everything just so sketchy.”

Investigating officers said it was a “bizarre” incident, but are of the belief Mohammed may have known one of the gunmen.

Up to press time, investigating Homicide officers were busy viewing surveillance footage taken from in and around the compound, including from nearby businesses.

Speaking at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, yesterday, Mohammed’s brother, Nizam, fought back his tears as he said the family had no clue why anyone would want his brother killed.

“We do not know who and why and what happened. He never knew of any threats made against him,” Nizam said.

“My brother would have never hurt a fly. He was very kind and very charitable. We are just not sure why.”

Mohammed was the eldest of three children to his parents.

A colleague, who wished not to be identified, said staff at the branch were very distraught and traumatised.

“Most of us have not slept yet. It happened so quickly and we all remain confused but we are praying for justice. Ashmeed didn’t deserve this at all—not even in our nightmares. He was our motivation and reason to come to work. Always smiling.”

The colleague said Mohammed was an “over charitable and happy kind of guy” and would have given anyone in need money and sometimes a meal. “Maybe he was too kind and his heart was of gold, so that the greed of people led to his killing.”

In a statement yesterday, McDonald’s T&T operations manager Kalifa Duncan said they were saddened by the incident.

“The Cipriani Boulevard restaurant will remain closed until further notice as staff mourns the passing of its manager Ashmeed Mohammed. We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our colleague Ashmeed.

Our hearts are with his loved ones,” the release stated.

“Ashmeed was known for his outstanding level of service, enthusiasm and dedication; our team will miss him greatly.”

Shock waves in community

Vega De Oropouche councillor Anil Juteram said yesterday he knew the Mohammed family very well and described them as a “humble” family.

“This sent shock waves. They are churchgoing people and very humble. In fact, Mother’s Day weekend I saw he (Mohammed) and his brother come to do some shopping in the supermarket for their mother and I was shocked to see him because I always knew him to be working,” Juteram said.

“He always worked. His job was his life and he was so dedicated.”

Juteram said Mohammed started off at the Westmall branch and when it closed down he was sent to a south branch until re-located to Cipriani Boulevard. He described Mohammed as a quiet and “decent chap…I have never seen any signs of arrogance or haste in him. He was well-mannered and very soft spoken.”

Addressing rising crime, Juteram said there was a need to bring in joint police and army patrols and “much-needed groundwork and collaboration between the people in the different areas and the community policing.”

Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Rhondor Dowlat)

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