On Friday afternoon, when a 68-year-old farmer shot and killed one of three men caught red-handed stealing in his garden, a frightened accomplice began making excuses.
"I want to call Mammy. I have to go and pick up my daughter," he told the farmer.
But the farmer and his 35-year-old son guarded the suspect and the getaway car in the garden at Borde Narve in Princes Town until police arrived. The suspect, 34, lives at Union Road in Marabella.
The farmer who requested anonymity recalled that the family had been victims of constant thefts for the past ten years. Apart from rearing animals at Moruga, the family also plant crops such as pommecythere, paw paw, cassava and plantain at Borde Narve.
Shortly before 5 pm on Friday, the farmer/ hunter and his son caught the men stealing and loading plantains into a car. One had a gun, and the farmer called out to them.
The gunman threatened to shoot, but the farmer was faster. He fired one round using his licensed shotgun, hitting an accomplice, later identified as Fabien McDonald, 30. The gunman ran off into nearby bush.
The father and son held the third accomplice, the driver, whom they handed over to police.
During the pandemic, the farmer was hospitalised, and the family lost 18 cattle to thieves from a property in La Ruffin, Moruga. The animals were worth an estimated $150,000, he said.
Last Sunday, thieves raided the field. For years, the farmer said he has been complaining to the Praedial Larceny Squad as well as Princes Town police without help or anyone being arrested.
"Every week, people are thieving. That (the recovered plantain and plants) is worth about $4,500. Only last Sunday, they thief plantain.
"Thieving is a problem not only for this family but for other villagers who plant crops and rear animals," he said.
He recalled that one day, the family caught a thief in the garden. The man dropped a knapsack which contained a birth certificate, believed to be his, and other documents while fleeing. The family said they handed over the items to police, but to date, no one has been arrested.
His son, who also did not want to be named, said their lives are at risk while on their own property.
He called for farmers to be allowed to have guns to protect themselves from armed criminals.
"I applied since 2010 for one. More than a year and a half passed, and I am still waiting.
"We have a lot of lands. The acreage is large, and thieves are going there with guns. It is unsafe for us. Sometimes there is only one worker in the garden," he said.
The family complained about "human pests" in the village.
Sunday Newsday spoke to Mario, the brother of the man killed in the garden. Mario said his dead brother had celebrated his 30th birthday on Wednesday. Fabien McDonald was a construction worker and father of a seven-month baby. Mario said owing to the pandemic, his brother was out of work.
"He was a hardworking person. Sometimes, people made decisions they think is right in their hearts," Mario said at the family’s home at Cipero Road in Borde Narve.
"Sometimes people do things without thinking about the risks. If people know his situation maybe, they may reconsider their (negative) comments. He wanted to care for his child and had not been getting any work."
He said his grieving mother is further torn by some of the hurtful comments by social media users on the circumstances of the killing.
Mario acknowledged that there are "a few pests in the area," but said his brother was not one of them.
"Sometimes friends take you and do not bring you back," he said.
Supt Dhillpaul, ASPs Theodore-Persad and Ali-Mohammed, Sgt Ramlogan, Cpl Bridgemohan, and other police from the Southern Division and Homicide Bureau Region III searched for evidence, and interviewed several people.
An autopsy is scheduled for Monday at the Forensic Science Centre in St James.