In a few minutes of sheer terror, an American Missionary couple and their teenage son were savagely attacked, beaten and robbed by two cutlass-wielding masked bandits at their Rousillac home on Tuesday night.
However, although left traumatised Michael and Kathryn Purdom, who are in their 60s, said this incident has not changed their perception of Trinidad and Tobago or cause them to pack up and leave back to America because, “Evil everywhere.”
Recalling the incident, Michael said he, his wife and their 16-year-old son Silas had just returned to home from evening Bible study at the Church of Christ in Aripero, at 8.30 pm, when there was a knock on the front door.
Believing it to be a member of the flock seeking salvation, Michael opened the door only to be pounced on by two masked bandits who began to planass (beat with flat side of a cutlass) him across his face and arms.
This was the first time, Michael said, he had ever came face to face with such violence.
‘PASS THE CASH... CASH ONLY’
As he tried to ward off the blows, Michael said he fell to the ground. The violence did not end there. The bandits grabbed Michael by his feet and dragged him further into the house. Michael’s screams brought his wife and son running to see what was taking place and they too were attacked by the bandits. As they doled out blow after blow with their cutlasses, the bandits had one demand only from their victims: “Pass the cash... cash only!”
Mrs Purdom, who is nursing a broken hand which she suffered after a fall, grabbed all of the money the family had in the house and handed it over to the bandits. The intruders then walked out of the house and disappeared into the night. “They told us if we did not give them all of our the cash, they would come back... and we would be sorry,” Michael said yesterday.
He said the bandits stole US$180, TT$1,200, some EC currency as well as their wallets which contained driving permits and other legal documents. While not planning to leave Trinidad, Michael said the attack has left him shaken and afraid as this is not the first time the family has been attacked while on their missionary work in this country.
Michael said that he ‘uprooted’ his wife and eight children from the comfort of their farming community in Arkansas, USA and migrated to South Trinidad to spread the gospel on behalf of the Church of Christ, seven years ago. During this time, two of his daughters fell in love and got married to local preachers, giving Michael and his wife Kathryn four grandchildren.
WHITE, AMERICANS, ATTACKED
Calling on the bandits to turn from their wicked ways and obey God’s Commandments, Michael said that contrary to what some people may believe, he and his family are not wealthy.
Speaking bluntly, Michael told Newsday that because he and his family are white Americans, some people believe they have lots of money.
“Being American does not mean we are wealthy. We are ordinary folks trying to serve the people of Trinidad and Tobago through the word of God. We are here on our own nickel. I am on a pension and we get assistance from a few people... but everything we do is voluntary. We are not here for the money. We are here to serve God, to do God’s will,” he said.
He revealed that in March their home was ransacked while they were on a Carnival camp in Tobago. Michael said the thought of packing up his bags and leaving this country has crossed his mind, but he reiterated, “There is evil everywhere.”
“Being in the United States is no safeguard against evil,” he said recalling the recent Las Vegas shooting which left 60 people dead and over 500 injured. Stephen Paddock, an American opened machine-gun fire from his hotel room at people who were attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival on the Vegas strip.
“I love the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Two of them are my sons-in-law. I love this country and this incident although terrifying, won’t make me leave,” Michael said.
Officers from the La Brea and South Oropouche police stations visited the scene and recorded statements from the victims. No arrest has been made.
In July, Fr Clyde Harvey, now Bishop of Grenada, was robbed of $1,000 and his cellphone by three bandits who broke into the presbytery at the St Martin de Porres church in Gonzales, Belmont and hog-tied him.