A mother of three who was celebrating her birthday on Saturday night and a policeman of the Court and Process branch were murdered when gunmen opened fire on a group of limers on Charlotte Street, Port of Spain on Saturday night.
According to reports, two men walked south along Charlotte Street, around 7 pm, and saw a man from Beetham Gardens who they wanted dead. The gunmen opened fire killing Sgt Roger Williams and Natoya Christian. Christian died at the scene while Williams was declared dead on arrival at Port of Spain General Hospital around 7.50 pm.
Williams, 50, who was at the time moonlighting at a nearby casino never got the chance to draw his personal firearm. The gun, a Sig Sauer pistol, was picked up by customers at D’Style Mall where the shooting took place and later handed over to ASP Edmund Cumberbatch of Besson Street Police Station.
Williams lived at Serraneau Road, Belmont and was the third officer to be shot in the past week. Cpl Frank Fox was shot on Righteous Lane, Pinto Road, Arima when he went to a mechanic on November 23. One man was later arrested for that shooting. One day later, WPC Jewel Wharton Prescott was shot while dropping off a friend at her Bellbird Avenue, Malabar home.
At the scene, Christian’s grandmother was inconsolable. Relatives said Christian finalised the payment of her home in Chaguanas, last Sunday, and was looking forward to moving in by Christmas. The 33-year-old lived at Mentor Alley, Laventille, her aunt said, and was a hairdresser since she was 17, renting a booth from the age of 21. Christian, a single mother, had two daughters and an 18-year-old son.
An eyewitness said the killers came for a man identified as Elvon “Breast” Gittens of Beetham Gardens. Gittens and another woman were also hit in the shooting, after which the gunmen ran north on Charlotte Street and on to Nelson Street. Gittens ran into a grocery where he was taken to hospital.
While at the scene, those who gathered were overheard chastising the killers. One woman asked why the gunmen didn’t “walk up to the man and kill him.” Another blamed the killing on the Chinatown sign saying “Is the dragon, we have to plead the blood of Jesus over it.”
Up to 9 pm, friends of Christian were wishing her happy birthday on her Facebook page.
One comment read: “Rest in Peace Natoya Christian..... Such a crazy world. Always full of verve and loved to smile but killed in Chinatown by a coward’s bullets.”
The killing of the duo was one of four that took place on Saturday. According to police around 12.30 am at Broome Street, La Puerta Road, Diego Martin, Deon Allen was killed. Police said residents heard gunshots and later found Allen dead. Allen, 25, lived at Mercer Road, Diego Martin. Then around 9 pm a man was shot dead while liming at High Street, San Fernando. Up to press time, the identity of the victim remained unknown. The four killings took the murder toll to 490.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said he will defend the country. “We would overcome. We would win back our country,” he encouraged.
He added: “I was trained to defend a country against armed conflict. What we are experiencing now is a virtual war. The enemy has the type of firepower and their tactics equate with what I faced when we fought the IRA whilst training in the UK. They adopt hit and run tactics.”
“The difference here in this war is that the rules of engagement are one whereby the enemy is trying to kill us and those we try to protect. When we try to protect them and ourselves by shooting back with accurate shots, we are condemned.”
Griffith said the country is a virtual war zone, and when the enemies are captured, the police are ordered to release them so they can go back with assault rifles to turn against law enforcement and others. “Then when the murder count rises, the police is blamed. Every creed and race no longer has an equal place. Criminal elements now have more rights, hence throwing cold water to that line in our anthem. Regardless of the few detractors, and those who are in strategic positions to undermine what we are trying to achieve, including those in and out of uniform, I give the assurance that good would overcome evil. I would continue to do what is required to defend the 1.3 million-plus law-abiding citizens from the criminal elements and their strategic allies. The more they target me, it means that we are starting to achieve our objective.”