A tense silence fell over St Michael's Village, Las Cuevas, yesterday as relatives and residents waited for the removal of the bodies of 45-year-old reputed drug dealer Vaughn Mieres, aka "Sandman," his wife and two of his bodyguards, after they were killed during an attack at their home in the early hours of the morning.
Police said seven men dressed in police tactical uniforms approached Mieres' hilltop home at around 4.30 am and began banging on the door. They identified themselves as police.
Mieres' wife Alika Dehere opened the door and was shot and killed. The men then went from room to room in the house shooting and killing Mieres' bodyguards, Nigel Octiv and another man identified only as "Blacka," before killing Mieres himself.
During the attack, a 24-year-old Maraval man was shot and wounded by a bodyguard.
Mieres' children, 15 and five, were in the house and hid in a closet while their parents were being murdered.
The killers left the house and drove in two Nissan Wingroad cars parked outside to the Maracas boatyard, where they escaped in a boat after setting fire to the getaway cars.
When they got to Port of Spain, the men reportedly went their separate ways.
The wounded attacker was taken to the St James Infirmary for treatment. The man told staff there he had been shot in Arima, but they called the police, who arrested him. He remains under police guard.
Investigators said the man was a former friend and lieutenant who had a falling-out with Mieres and had turned against his ex-employer.
Police suspect the man may have orchestrated an assassination attempt on Mieres last month, near the Providence Girls' Catholic School in Belmont.
Senior police said they believe Mieres may have been plotting a series of attacks on the men he suspected were behind the attempt on his life, but his attackers got to him first.
Newsday visited the house yesterday morning and spoke to relatives who had gathered to await confirmation that Mieres was dead. Asked to comment on his reputation as a drug dealer, one woman said while he was known to be involved in illegal activities, she felt he did not deserve the reputation given to him by the authorities as a “major player” in the drug trade.
"I'm not saying he was good just because he was my brother – he used to run his little drugs and things. He had his ways.
"But I feel his reputation was just exaggerated by the authorities. Anyone who came up here, he used to deal with them. He took care of his own and made sure that there was peace in this area."
The four bodies were taken to the Forensic Science Centre, St James, where autopsies are expected to be done today.
National Security Minister Stuart Young spoke on the incident during the post-Cabinet media conference yesterday. He said the individual killed had many allegations of criminal activity against him. On reports the perpetrators wore police tactical uniforms, he said at that stage he was not aware police uniforms were used but he had heard it was dark-coloured uniforms or camouflage similar to military fatigues.
Asked if citizens should be concerned about further incidents, he said he was not expecting any but it cannot be predicted if anything will affect law-abiding citizens.
Asked about safety concerns of people going to Maracas beach or Las Cuevas beach, Young said the house in question was not on Las Cuevas beach.
"No reason to panic and not go to Maracas or Las Cuevas."