CERTAIN individuals get criminals to commit random shootings of innocent people so as to try to destabilise this society, alleged National Security Minister Stuart Young. He spoke at Thursday’s post-Cabinet briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, after several shooting incidents so far this year, some which he said were crime-linked and some he said were not.
Recalling a sudden spike in homicides late last December, Young said, “Prior to that were a number of incidents of homicides and what appeared to be sporadic events and random shootings at persons who are not involved, as far as we are aware, in criminal activity.”
He recalled meeting heads of security services.
“I drew to their attention that all of a sudden we were seeing shootings taking place across the east-west corridor in particular that were not gang-related and were not criminal activity-related.
“A couple late at night in a particular neighbourhood were talking to someone within their fence when a car pulled up 100 feet away and just shot randomly at them. There are a few of these types of incidents.”
Young said policing is done by intelligence.
“So consistently I have the national security apparatus doing the analysis, looking at things, linking things and we have some great analysis in TT, and I put down a marker. Why is it that suddenly there are these instances, of people driving along certain main roads and just being shot at?”
Those victims, including police officers, had no criminal links, he said.
“We then began to put certain pieces of the puzzle together.”
He alleged certain people want to create a sense of fear and panic in TT about runaway crime. Young said on December 31, 2019, an off-duty police officer had stopped a carload of men firing automatic rifles at non-criminals in the heart of Port of Spain.
“The question then began to be even more emphasised: Who is it that stands to derive the most benefit from sudden spikes in the murder rate and the narrative of a murder-rate in an upward direction?”
Saying this is being investigated, he said he was sure the police would say who in this society was actively communicating with criminals to push crime.
Last August, at a press conference at the National Security Ministry offices in Port of Spain, Young had claimed opposition members were in contact with criminals.
He said, "As the Minister of National Security, I am aware that there are members, both past and present, of the UNC Opposition in TT who are interfacing with the criminal element in TT."
He added that a few months before then, there was an individual with a host of criminal charges against him on a UNC platform.
On Thursday, however, Young addressed recent crime. Offering condolences on the death of a young doctor (Dr Rudradeva Sharma), he said certain activities and areas will expose you to more risk than in necessary.
Young said a shooting on Nelson Street on Wednesday was crime-related and involved warring factions. On the shooting deaths of three people in east Trinidad, he said he wished he could publicly reveal the police report.
“Persons involved and even the deceased have been categorised in a report to me as ‘enforcer,’ ‘drug pusher,’ ‘drug dealer.’ Those are three of the categorisations provided to me in writing of the types of activities involved. Enforcer means shooter.”
He said what was in the public eye might not be the full truth.
On top of hard policing, Young also vowed soft policing steps on crime such as the National Crime Prevention Plan, a cadet force revamp and a school intervention programme.
Asked if he’d consider a state of emergency, Young replied, “Absolutely not. This has not come up as a topic of conversation.”
Asked of his own performance, he asked how one measured if the State was losing the war on crime.
Young said the Government wanted to create a higher police visibility to curb crime and improve the perception of its handling of crime.
“They (police) are now pursuing a line of investigation to connect the dots between certain persons in society who may stand to benefit from criminals carrying out random acts of violence against law-abiding citizens. The only reason you’d want to do that is to create a sense of fear, there’s lawlessness taking place and things are out of control.”
Newsday asked if anyone needs to try to stir up fear in among a people already living in fear of crime. “If I decide to tell someone to go out there and shoot up the place and randomly shoot people and therefore drive the statistics up, obviously that will add to the fuelling of the sense of hopelessness with crime.”
Young said the Government is giving the law enforcement authorities the resources to probe. “I am just cautioning that all that you see, there is smoke and mirrors and all that you see may not be what it is reported to be. At the right time, the authorities will speak to that.”
He said the police and Defence Force are refining their plans for Carnival to improve on last year which was a very safe Carnival.