One day after the police hierarchy urged the nation not to panic over the number of murders being committed in the country, the killings continued unabated. At least five murders were recorded between Friday night and Saturday.
These incidents have pushed the murder toll for the year to 30 in 15 days, giving an average of two murders per day. Police said on Friday Jeremiah Motilal, 41, was shot while walking along the Train Line, Malabar, around 10 pm. Residents reported hearing gunshots after a car pulled alongside Motilal. He was rushed to the hospital but was dead on arrival.
Meanwhile, a shooting at Church Street which is located off By-Pass Road, Arima, during the early hours Saturday morning reportedly left one man dead. A video posted to social media revealed an unidentified man lying face down in a drain, bleeding from gunshot wounds. A woman who reportedly knew the victim, fainted at his side as she saw his body. She had to be revived by residents who rushed out to assist them both. Another man was fatally shot at Lovell Place, East Dry River, Laventille, Saturday morning while a woman was injured. Kerwin “Fish” Naswell, 46, who is from the area, was shot several times as he stood in front of a parlour, talking to the woman who is also from the area. Forensic officials reported high-powered rifles were used in this incident after they retrieved several 7.62 mm and 5.56 mm shells at the scene.
In central Trinidad, the wife of retired police officer Daryl Jodha found his bloody body in a bedroom at their Endeavour, Chaguanas home Saturday morning. Jodha, 57, had been confined to a wheelchair since suffering a stroke in 2015.
Last attached to the Immigration Division, Jodha had retired several years ago. Investigators were told that he slept downstairs their townhouse at the Oasis Greens Housing Development, while his wife Nadira Rampersad and two children, ages nine and 11, slept upstairs. Rampersad awoke around 7.10 am and went downstairs. She found the front door open. Rampersad went into her husband’s bedroom and found him lying in blood on the ground next to the bed. His body had injuries similar to stab wounds. Relatives had no idea why someone would want to harm him. Police believe the motive was either robbery or domestic-related.
Meanwhile, around 11.15 am yesterday 31-year-old Davidson Jeremy was liming with another person at Boodram’s Convenience Supermarket near the stocking area in Tabaquite when a man wearing a long straight hair wig entered with a gun. The gunman and Jeremy had an exchange of words and he then fired several shots at Jeremy. The gunman ran a short distance away and entered a pickup van while Jeremy stumbled out of the business place, collapsed and died on the road.
Jeremy, of Mortar Trace, Tabaquite, was unemployed and had celebrated his birthday on Friday. Police are still trying to ascertain a motive.
A security guard was reportedly found unresponsive at his workplace on Saturday by colleagues at Mexico Road, Wallerfield. However, the police have not classified this death as a murder.
Acting Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob at the TTPS weekly press briefing assured the nation that murders were not out of control while Assistant Commissioner of Police Wendell Williams urged the nation not to be alarmed by the surge in murders.
They explained that murders in the country tend to be high in January–in January 2021 there were 25 murders, 46 murders in January 2020, 40 in January 2019, 60 in 2018 and 52 in 2017. Jacob noted that about 60 per cent of murders were linked to gang warfare, while altercations and domestic violence accounted for another 30 per cent. While in 2021 there were 499 murders, he said it was within the 440 yearly average over the last ten years.
Responding to the latest murders, Williams maintained that there was no need for the public to panic. “We do have surges at times, it is not the first time and so that’s when I talked about not being alarmed but I did say that we are concerned and our concern is not just a dormancy.” He said they are acting on it.
“We have to act. One of the murders for instance appears to be not your normal gang, I am just making reference to one, it might very well be domestic and Mr Jacobs spoke about it yesterday (Friday) in terms of us taking a look at those matters that are not purely criminal centred but more emotional or what have you.” He explained that with each murder they had to determine the cause and examine the trends.
“We have a surge and the public should not be panicking, it is not new, it is not a new domain that we are in.” He reiterated that one of their priorities was to ensure people understood what it meant to be arrested and imprisoned. “The prison must be a place that says it is a place not to come, a place to avoid. It is not a place where you have the freedom to do things that impact society like what you were talking about, alarm and those things.” He again assured the population that the police were working on strategies to deal with the crime situation.