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Alisha Francis expresses her grief over the shooting death of Nicholas Seemungal in Vickey Trace, La Canoa Road Santa Cruz yesterday.

Three men who police say belonged to a gang that took its orders from a high-risk inmate at the Maximum Security Prison (MSP) were shot and killed by police in Santa Cruz yesterday.

Investigators told Guardian Media that acting on credible information they visited Vickey Trace, La Canoa Road in Santa Cruz shortly after 3 pm. Officers of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) headed by Sgt Mark Hernandez said they approached a group of men liming in the area near a tree, who began acting suspiciously. Police claim one of the men drew a firearm and shot at them.

The police officers returned fire hitting 21-year-old Kadeem Issac aka Cookie, 22-year-old Tajniar Charles and 17-year-old Nicholas Seemungal.

All three men, police said, had firearm-related offences pending in court and were taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital but died on arrival. Police say they recovered two pistols on the scene.

Senior investigators told Guardian Media that they had obtained credible information that the men were part of a deadly gang taking instructions to execute prisons and police officers from a high-risk inmate behind prison walls.

The well-connected inmate has also been fingered in the execution of several witnesses in the past by authorities.

But residents disputed the police’s version of events.

Many were enraged at the killings and gathered on the hillside to vent their feelings to the heavily armed officers.

“They never shot anyone. They lie. They were liming under a tree and they never had any gun,” one resident shouted.

Alisha Francis who knew Seemungal said, “He never deserved to die like that. When police kill you like that, nobody ever gets justice. I never even got to see him they just take his body away,” she wailed.

Investigations into the police shooting are continuing.