A VICIOUS gang war between rival factions in the Laventille hills claimed an innocent life when a woman on her way home after work was shot dead by gunmen who opened fire on the car in which she was a passenger early yesterday morning.
The KFC branch on Independence Square in Port of Spain was a place of sorrow and tears yesterday as workers heard the news that one of their own, Dawn Grant, was dead.
A release from Prestige Holdings, local franchise holder of KFC, extended condolences to Grant's family.
Police said a car carrying KFC staff had just taken one employee home at about 1.15 am in John John, Laventille and as the driver was leaving, two gunmen came out of a narrow alley in Dan Kelly, near the water tanks, and began shooting at the car.
After bullets thudded into the car and Grant slumped in her seat after being shot in the head, the driver continued driving to escape the area. As he reached a part of Laventille known as Africa, more gunmen fired at the car. The driver drove straight to the Besson Street police station.
Grant who was from Morvant, was taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital, where she died hours later while receiving emergency.
Police believe the fatal shooting is a result of heightened activity and vigilance among gangs in east Port of Spain and Laventille. It came after similar incidents earlier on Wednesday night. Police believe gunmen did not recognise the car transporting the KFC workers home and started shooting on the assumption that the occupants might have been from a rival gang.
The deadly shooting came hours after Police Commissioner Gary Griffith, at the weekly police press briefing on Wednesday, confirmed heightened gangland shootings in Laventille as gangsters fought over a box drain contract. Griffith also sounded the alarm that more and more young people, from as early as age 11, are joining criminal gangs.
Grant's autopsy was scheduled for yesterday at the Forensic Science Centre in St James. No arrest has been made.
Newsday spoke to her father, Gaston Spring, who said he was deeply hurt by his daughter's passing and the police ought to use "heavy force" when confronting criminals. He said police needed to regain control of certain areas and cited a recent video circulating on social media in which police trying to subdue a woman were bitten.
"They need to use heavy force and get rid of these fellas. The politicians aren't doing their jobs, the parents aren't calling the police when they see their children with these guns, and now the police aren't doing what is necessary. When will it end?
"All we hear about is human rights for the criminals. Well, what about my daughter's human rights? She is dead now and for what?
"Her son is in his twenties, he lost his father a few years ago and now he has no mother. It's a good thing I built this house so he has somewhere to stay," a livid Spring said.
Chairman of Prestige Holdings Ltd Christian Moutett, in an interview with Newsday yesterday, said the incident was deeply saddening and sent his condolences to Grant's family.
"Any loss of life is a huge tragedy and I certainly offer my most sincere condolences to the families.
"I know we have arranged transport for our employees, I don't know the details of this one, but it's probably the late-night transport. The key point in arranging transport is because we are concerned for the security of our staff, so we attempt to provide transport for them to get them home safely. So this really is a tragedy," Mouttet said.
In a subsequent press statement, Prestige Holdings Ltd CEO Simon Hardy said Grant worked as a supervisor and he extended condolences to her relatives on behalf of the company.
"The Prestige Family is deeply saddened by the tragic and senseless loss of one of our KFC supervisors, Dawn Grant. Dawn joined as a team member and worked hard to better her life and had been promoted to a supervisor. She was just trying to make the best of this precious time.
"We would like to express our sincerest condolences to her family and friends at this time. We are also providing counselling to her colleagues to help them deal with their loss," Hardy said.