AN Arouca man is now in critical condition after residents of Oropune Gardens, Piarco reportedly administered vigilante justice after an incident in the area on Wednesday night.
The suspect, 49, of Bon Air, Arouca, is at the ICU of the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope.
Eyewitnesses said he was seen around the children’s play park in Oropune Gardens from early on Wednesday evening. He is said to have made “inappropriate” remarks to a group of teenage girls and was confronted by a young adult woman from the area.
He also reportedly grabbed the arm of a six-year-old girl, calling her “baby,” and “cousin,” and she ran to a relative in tears.
The child’s mother (name given), who lives in the apartment building obliquely opposite the park, was told of the incident. She said: “She came to me shaking, said a man touched her and she was frightened.
“I confronted him, asking him who he was, why he approached my daughter. He kept saying she was his cousin.
“We quarrelled and I left. I walked out the road to a shop and came back and saw all the commotion outside.”
The young mother said villagers questioned the man about who he was and where he was from.
He seemed intoxicated, offered several different answers and then ran into nearby bush.
One resident set the bush on fire to flush him out.
The man ran out of the blaze barefooted, and a black T-shirt, and residents accosted him again.
The melee turned violent and he fell and appeared unconscious. One resident threw a bucket of water over him. Not even the spreading bush fire, which eventually burned itself out, distracted residents from interrogating him.
Another resident, an off-duty police officer, cautioned them to wait for uniformed police, who would arrest the suspect if warranted.
They then hog-tied him to an electrical pole while they waited. Shortly before 10 pm, two officers arrived in a marked police car and contacted emergency health services. They had to cut off the length of rope residents had used to tie him up.
He was taken to the Arima Health Facility and later transferred to Mt Hope, where he was listed as critical up to press time.
While Oropune residents said they felt justified in making “a citizen’s arrest,” the suspect’s family said he would never harm a child.
One distraught relative said, “He is my husband’s cousin. He is here since around 1 on Wednesday. He was drinking and asked where he could get cigarettes. My husband sent him to a nearby shop and we did not see him again.
“Whenever he comes here and around our children, he would tell us make sure they always safe, ‘cause he would go after anyone who hurt a child.
“Now they saying he tried to grab a little girl. That could never be true.”
The woman added that while he would “tease or tackle” women, he would not have inappropriately approached any child. She said she saw the police and ambulance, but had no idea it involved her husband’s cousin.
Yesterday morning, she said, family members told them he had not come home on Wednesday night. She said she also heard of a video of what had happened to him.
With tears in her eyes, she shook her head and pointed at a multi-coloured cayenne plant, which the man had brought her as a gift that day.
“We then heard it on the news that he is critical in the hospital. I pray to God he makes it through, ‘cause he did not deserve what happened to him,” she added.