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Wednesday 19 June 2019
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Parliament clerk dies after drive-by shooting

Mariana Moonisar
Mariana Moonisar

A Parliament employee died hours after she was shot in a drive-by in Couva on Friday evening.

Mariana Moonisar, 28, was shot in the head as she drove a silver Nissan Tiida, with her father Roopchan “Chippy” Moonisar, 57, as a passenger, along Esperanza Road at about 5.30 pm.

Mariana’s car was struck by bullets fired by two gunmen in a passing car, police said yesterday. She died at the Couva Health Facility later that evening, while Roopchan, who received a gunshot to his cheeks, was expected to undergo surgery at San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) yesterday.

Bullet holes are seen at the rear of the Nissan Tiida which Mariana Moonisar was driving when gunmen opened fire in Couva on Friday. Moonisar died at hospital, while her father Roopchan Moonisar was shot in the cheeks. PHOTO BY LINCOLN HOLDER

Mariana and her father had a routine where she would drive to the Main Road, Couva, on mornings then hand over the car to him as she travelled to work as clerk at the Parliament in Port of Spain. Roopchan, a labourer at the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation, would return on evenings to meet Mariana who would drive them to their home at George Street, Esperanza.

Last Friday, however, their return home turned fatal. Mariana was single and had no children.

A villager said gunshots were heard in the area in the morning when Mariana, fondly called Marie, was driving to the Main Road. The villager felt certain, she and her father heard the gunshots and believed the shooting in the evening was not a coincidence.

“She was driving out at about 5 am when they heard shots. They were running a little late, so she was driving a little faster than normal. They did not really take it on, not knowing they were the intended targets. By evening in the same spot, they were shot,” said the villager.

A former friend of Mariana, a policeman based in central Trinidad, is among several people whom police said may be able to help them solve the case.

Investigators found eight spent shells (.40 calibre) at the scene.

Another villager recalled finding the injured father and daughter moments after the shooting. The man, who did not want to reveal his identity out of fear, said Roopchan flagged him down while weeping with his clothes and faced covered with blood.

“I stopped the car and he said, ‘Help me, my daughter got shot’. She was in the driver’s seat with a bullet to the head. Chippy was crying and unable to catch himself,” he said.

The man said he contacted the police, during which time Roopchan was frantic saying his daughter was still breathing. Other drivers stopped and helped him to put Mariana in the back of his car.

“He kept saying, ‘Marie doh leave me’. He was crying and hugging her up. He kept telling me to drive fast because she was still breathing. We went by the Couva Health Facility and we got assistance immediately,” the man said, recalling Roopchan’s pleas. Mariana later died, and her father was transferred to SFGH.

“They are from a decent family and she was a decent child. This is a crime-free area and it is very shocking,” the man said.

Relatives were reluctant to speak saying they had no information about the shooting. Mariana’s brother Ricardo, 20, said she would have celebrated her 29th birthday on December 10.

“We got the news from villagers and went to the Couva Health Centre. I did not get to see her. To me, everything was normal here. She had been working as a clerk for the past six years at the Parliament and takes the bus in Couva to go to work,” he said.

Ricardo said Mariana did not have any enemies and had not received any threats from anyone.

Couva South MP Rudy Indarsingh extended condolences saying he knew the family. He said Roopchan is a UNC activist.

Manager of corporate communications at Parliament Jason Elcock could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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