A nation of children is crying after the senseless murder of a well respected educator and father of four, Hasley Mack, also known as “Teach”.
Mack was a 47-year-old Standard 3 primary school teacher of Escalier Government Primary School in Gonzales who lived on Coconut Drive, Laventille. He became collateral damage when unknown gunmen passing in a car sprayed him, and a group of men, with bullets near a mini-mart on Lady Young Avenue at around 7.30 pm on Tuesday.
Another man, identified as 24-year-old James Julian, was also killed in the drive-by shooting, and a third man, identified as Jhamali Haywood, was wounded and is currently being treated at hospital.
Shocked and bereft neighbours spoke to reporters yesterday, describing Mack as a selfless and reliable person.
“He has given lessons to every child on this street.” said a Coconut Drive resident. “It doesn’t matter whether the parent has money, or doesn’t have money. He was always willing to help children with their education. He was also loved by children. He was like Santa Claus to the children around him.”
Newsday was told that Mack would give children free lessons in Math, English and Science. Neighbours added he also assisted police youth clubs and community groups. He was even making plans to extend the front yard of his house so that he could better accommodate the children to whom he was giving free lessons.
Residents said that his selflessness and kindness did not end with children. He would also go out of his way to help his neighbours and friends.
“Before he left for work, he would drop some of his neighbours and their children to work and school.” said another resident.
Newsday was told that on the same day he died he dropped off neighbours to their places of work and their children to school. Even hours before he was shot, he had picked up a neighbour and dropped them home.
Residents told reporters that he went to the mini-mart on Lady Young Avenue, Morvant, to get bread. At the time, the shops and parlours on his street were closed.
Just as he arrived at the parlour, at about 7.30 pm a silver Nissan AD wagon stopped in front of the mini-mart, and people occupying the car sprayed the area with bullets. Mack was caught in the back with one of the stray bullets. Julian and Haywood were also shot, and all three were taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital, where Mack and Julian died as a result of their wounds.
A relative of Julian told Newsday while at the Forensic Science Centre in St James, that the 24-year-old man went on the block to buy marijuana when he was killed.
“He loved the block. He is always on the block.” said a relative, “I was tired of talking to him about going on the block. He liked to follow company too much. This is very sad, but only God knows why these things happen.”
Relatives said Julian had gotten into trouble with the law in relation to possession of marijuana, but had only one pending matter before the courts. Relatives said that he began to change his life with the birth of his six-week-old daughter. He was one of five children.
Autopsies done at Forensics yesterday confirmed that both Mack and Julian died from multiple gunshot wounds.
North Eastern Division police are continuing investigations.