It was a case of kill or be killed.
This was Constable Rory Manmohan’s take on him firing at an armed bandit who had held him and a woman hostage during a hold-up at an Arima casino on Thursday evening.
Manmohan who works in the Court and Process Branch and is assigned to the Tunapuna Police Station was yesterday hailed a hero by colleagues for single-handedly thwarting the robbery and preventing bloodshed on innocent people. Manmohan, a police for the past 29 years, said he was off-duty at the time and gambling at the electronic roulette machine inside the Happy Lime Casino at Gordon and Broadway in Arima.
As the female casino room attendant Feng Qi was walking towards him to give him $200 as part of his winnings, bandit Leshon Villafana, 21, of Foster Road, Sangre Grande entered the casino, announced a hold-up and grabbed both him and Qi. Manmohan said as the bandit was taking them toward the cashier’s cage, he pulled out his licensed firearm and shot Villafana in the head.
According to the officer everything happened so quickly that he only reacted to the imminent threat of death facing him and Qi. “I had to do something and do it quickly. Uppermost in my mind was saving the life of the Casino attendant and others,” Manmohan said. Asked if the shooting had left him traumatised, Manmohan said this was not the first time he confronted death.
He recalled that back in 2005, following a high speed chase of a car bandit, he shot dead Marvin Gordon of Sangre Grande. “Being a police officer in these challenging times, every aspect of training has to be put into action and on Thursday, I had to protect myself and others around me. I did what I thought I needed to do.”
During the interview, Manmohan said he had a bad headache and was at home resting yesterday, but will be back out to work on Monday. After the shooting, a report was made to the Arima Police and officers led by Senior Superintendent Michael Daniel along with Superintendent Sheldon David, ASP Mervyn Edwards and Inspector Nigel Birch visited the scene along with a District Medical Officer and Homicide officers. Social media was ablaze with comments - most praising the policeman - after CCTV video footage showing the incident, was uploaded. “It damn good, he look for dat... who tell him to pick up gun and rob people,” one social media user opined. “If was your mother or wife he put a gun too would you still be defending him,” another user asked in response to one person who felt sorrow that Villafana was killed. Another Facebook user went so far as to call for Manmohan to be given a National Award for gallantry.
Police were able to identify Villafana by way of his TT Identification Car which was in his pants pocket. The owner of the Casino, PC Manmohan as well as others, were interviewed by investigators. An autopsy done yesterday at the Forensic Science Centre in St James confirmed that Villafana died after being shot once in the head at point blank range.