FIVE children were left motherless when she was shot dead in the bedroom of the family’s Sangre Grande home early yesterday morning by a male relative who then turned the shotgun on his own self in a failed suicide attempt.
One of Margaret Ragoobar Guevarra’s children, a 16-year-old girl, made the gruesome discovery when she heard gunshots and then her mother’s screams. School teacher Guevarra, 42, was already dead while the male relative lay nearby, breathing but barely conscious, with a gunshot wound to the head.
The girl, identified as Hope Guevarra, 16, started screaming which alerted neighbours who contacted the police. Officers arrived at the house located off Mandillon Road and found the woman’s children and neighbours gathered in the yard. Hope later told police that at about 7.45 am, she was awakened by the sound of gunshots coming from her mother’s bedroom. Screams were then heard.
Hope said when she tried to open the bedroom door, it was locked. She found a spare key and on opening the door, was greeted by a horrific scene as her mother lay dead on the floor next to the male relative. As police processed the scene, neighbours took charge of Guevarra’s children and gave them not only solace and hugs but also breakfast. Guevarra’s brother, a policeman assigned to Northern Division, arrived at the scene and ordered neighbours to leave the yard to allow investigators to do their work. Media personnel were also told to stand on the roadside.
Neighbours said that Guevarra and the male relative were having domestic problems but they never expected him to use his licensed shotgun to commit murder.
The suspect was taken to the Sangre Grande Hospital where up to press time, he remained warded in critical condition. Officers said they were amazed he was still alive as he sustained massive head injuries from the shotgun blast.
Relatives said that on Sunday, the atmosphere in the family house was quite relaxed and there was no tension or any other indication to suggest the grisly scene that would unfold hours later. Officers led by Senior Superintendent Garth Nelson and including ASP Etienne, Corporal Randolph Castillo, WPC Clarke and others along with their colleagues from the Homicide Investigations Bureau interviewed Guevarra’s five children whose ages range from 11 to 17.
Neighbours were also interviewed while the crime scene was being processed by officers of the Crime Scene Unit. Yesterday, when news of Guevarra’s death reached students and colleagues at the St Francis RC School in Sangre Grande, where she taught, many students began to weep. Student Support Services were called in to provide counselling and teachers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Guevara taught Standard Four students and was acting Head of Seniors Department. “She was an extremely good teacher who was well loved and respected by students. To arrive at school to start work only to hear that your colleague has been murdered...it’s just too much to bear,” a teacher said. Guevara’s body was later removed to the Forensic Science Centre in St James for an autopsy.
At a press conference yesterday afternoon, Education Minister Anthony Garcia, asked about Guevarra’s murder, said: “The Ministry’s student support programme was dispatched to the school to provide the comfort and support to students.”