A Sunday evening drive for food along the popular liming strip in Crown Point ended in tragedy and death for 35-year-old Frankie James. The MI4 security officer, an innocent bystander, was hit by a stray bullet in a police shooting and died at 2am on Tuesday at the Scarborough General Hospital.
Family members are still coming to come to terms with his death.
James, of Golden Grove Road in Canaan, was shot in the abdomen after an off-duty cop fired his gun to stop an altercation involving two other men.
According to police, Keron Sealey, 32, of Teak Avenue, Milford Court began chopping Kenelle Alleyne, of Hope village, with a cutlass around 10pm on Sunday in Crown Point. The two had reportedly had a fight earlier that night. An off-duty officer, who was standing a short distance away, saw Sealey chopping Alleyne and warned him to stop. Sealey continued chopping Alleyne and the officer, who is assigned to the Tobago Divisional Task Force, took out his gun and fired multiple times at Sealey.
James, who had arrived just a few moments earlier to buy food, was hit along with the cutlass attacker.
Sealey, Alleyne and James were taken to the Scarborough General Hospital, where Sealey was pronounced dead on arrival.
As well as being chopped, Alleyne suffered a fractured leg.
In an interview with Newsday on Tuesday, James's aunt said her nephew's death seems surreal.
"He went to get something to eat and had not too long arrived when something happened. He had no knowledge of the melee. We are trying to handle it. It feels somewhat unreal. We are still in a state of shock," she said.
The relative said family members are reacting differently.
"There is crying; there is the 'what if' and 'we not taking that' kinda thing. We will deal with it. Everybody is grieving in their way."
She said police have reached out to the family and offered assistance.
"They have extended condolences from more than one person. They said if we needed anything we could always ask."
Asked whether the officer was justified in firing while her nephew was in the vicinity of his primary target, the woman said, "Based on what was going on, being a police officer he should have done something. We know his intention was not to hit Frankie. I really can't say."
She said her nephew was loved by everyone and was a very hard-working person.
"Frankie was loving, willing to help anybody, anytime. He was humble, hard-working. He was a good one."
Another of James's relative questioned how did their casual Sunday evening lime turn out so tragic.
“Why do the innocent always have to suffer? Why does ignorance & violence have to take prominence in our society?" he posted on Facebook.
Contacted for comment, ACP Tobago Vernon Roberts said investigations are ongoing.