JENSEN LA VENDE and SHANE SUPERVILLE
FIVE people have died between Monday and Tuesday as a result of gun violence.
However, the period between Friday night and Tuesday afternoon saw 12 people including two elderly and a couple sitting in their car being gunned down.
The murders took the toll for the year to 315, three less than the same period last year.
Acting Police Commissioner Mc Donald Jacob says the increase in murders is linked to gangs fighting for contracts, drug turf and a spillover from illegal quarrying.
In the most recent of the killings, Triston Robertson was shot dead in a drug deal gone wrong.
Police said Robertson, of Waterwheel Road, Diego Martin, and two men went to Dunlop Drive, Cocorite on Tuesday with books wrapped in brown tape to look like packaged compressed marijuana.
The intended buyers, on realising they were being scammed, opened fire on the men hitting all three and killing Robertson who died in his Toyota Corolla car at around 1 pm. The car stopped on the east-bound lane of the Western Main Road near the ramp to enter St James. Access to the ramp was blocked causing traffic to back up all the way to Chaguaramas.
Robertson’s relatives arrived within an hour and had to be consoled by police.
The two wounded men were taken to the St James Health Facility where they remained in stable condition.
Hours earlier, Kehsan Ramlogan was shot dead after he and another man were robbed when they went to buy a car for $15,000.
Police said that at about 11.30 am, residents of Righteous Lane in Pinto Road, Arima reported hearing gunshots and later found Ramlogan dead in a car and an unidentified man wounded.
On Monday night, Vaughn Derrick Charles, 68, and Josiah Copeland, 19, were killed in a drive-by shooting. The killers were in a white Nissan Almera car and opened fire as they drove past a group of men at the corner of O'Keefe Street and Streatham Lodge Road, Tunapuna.
Charles died at the scene while Copeland was taken to the hospital where he died shortly after. Four men were also wounded during the attack, three of them remained in critical condition up to Tuesday evening.
On Monday morning Shaquille Pereira of Cross Trace, Brasso, Paria was shot while working at a construction site along the Bye-Pass Road in Arima near River Lime Ranch. He died at the Arima Health Facility.
At the Tunapuna home of his brother, Kenneth Morris, said he was at a loss for words over the murder of Charles who was on his way to buy a soft drink when he was killed around 7.30 pm on Monday.
Morris, 81, said he was outside when the shooting happened.
"When I started to hear the shots so, I ducked down behind a car to take cover. When it died down I got out and someone said my brother was dead."
Investigators said 51 spent shells and one live round of ammunition were found at the scene.
Morris, who is a lifelong Tunapuna resident, said this was the first time he heard of anything violent happening in the community and lamented the frequency of crime in the country.
He said young men were in need of better guidance from their relatives and called on parents to guide their children towards spirituality.
"Up to last night I was telling my wife, when I was a young fella about 16 or 17 years old every Sunday morning my great aunt would encourage me to get up and get ready for church.
“I grew up different to how these youths today are growing up. They are growing up like savages."
Of the 12 murders between Friday and Tuesday, eight took place in the Northern Division. Jacob said to combat the increasing murders, officers from the division will be given additional equipment.
Officers from different units are also expected to be placed in the Northern Division while the leave of other officers have been curtailed to ensure there is increased manpower to address the increased gang warfare.
He said it is evident that the majority of the killings are being done with high-powered weapons where people who are not even the intended targets are caught in the line of fire.
“This is not the first time for the year we have had these types of killings where two and three are killed at one time. There is a trend we are seeing where on several occasions we see a spiral like this. We saw it in Central Division, in Port of Spain and Southern. We are now seeing it in Northern Division.”