There have been 28 murders, with only fifteen days in the year.
The toll rose by three on Saturday night, after a man was killed in Fyzabad, one was killed in Manzanilla and another was killed in Arima. The rapidly rising rate of murders, according to Security Minister Edmund Dillon, has raised the concern of every facet of national security and has prompted an even higher sense of vigilance among all security organisations.
The first two murders were committed in Manzanilla, and Arima, no more than five minutes apart. Two men, identified as Ashram Persad, and Kurt Monticeux were both killed in separate robberies.
The earlier incident took place at the O’Meara Mall Branch of Church’s Chicken around 7.30 pm on Saturday. Newsday was told that two bandits were seen approaching the fast food outlet, and when cashiers were alerted, they got frightened and hid in the bathroom facilities.
The bandits stormed into the food place and announced a robbery, but no one was there, except for Monticeux who was working as a security guard. The bandits tried to pry open the cash registers but were unsuccessful.
Frustrated, the bandits shot Monticeux and fled. He died at the scene.
Newsday went to Monticeux’s home, at Building 15 Maloney Gardens, where all his neighbours lauded him as a helpful and caring man, although he was very reclusive. Newsday was told that he would not go outside, but rather would stay in his apartment and work on his art.
Newsday reporters were able to see his humble apartment which barely had furniture or any appliances, but had shelves full of artwork and drawings which he was working on. He even had massive murals on the walls of his apartment.
“If he is at home, you wouldn’t even know,” said one resident, “He was a true Christian. And he could draw anything. He could even draw you standing where you are. For the people in this building, it feels like we lost someone great.”
Five minutes after, Ashram Persad was shot dead by bandits.
Newsday was told that Persad, 47, of Picton Road Sangre Grande, was at his bar, Dougie’s Bar, on the Manzanilla/Mayaro road around 7.35 pm. Persad was shot once in the chest and the bandits grabbed a quantity of cash and fled. Patrons attempted to give chase, but the bandits began firing shots in the air. The bandits escaped in a Nissan Tiida, which was parked a short distance away.
Newsday was told that four people were held in connection with the robbery, and they are assisting police with the investigations currently.
Persad was taken to the Sangre Grande Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Relatives told Newsday that Persad was a father of three, who had just taken over the business from his brother about a year ago. He was described by family as a loving father, who took care of his children while his wife would work at Airports Authority.
Family members said that his death was totally unexpected since they had not had a single robbery at that bar for the ten years which it had been in existence.
“Everyone is just so confused,” said a relative, “We didn’t expect something like this to happen. We are just waiting for the police to do something, and holding on to each other right now.”
Dillon told Newsday yesterday with the failure of the Anti-Gang bill, security agencies would have to focus on using available laws to focus on the criminal elements.
“At the level we are at now, none of the agencies in national security is comfortable (with the state of crime). A number of the murders, from preliminary investigations, have been linked to drug and gang activity. We have to focus using available laws to treat with or rather to focus on those drug blocks that seem to be contributing to crime.” He assured that the Police Service and the National Security Ministry are doing everything they can to treat with the crime rate.