A MANHUNT involving teams of police and soldiers was underway in Tobago on Sunday for the killers of Special Reserve Policeman Kyle Lashley who was gunned down on Saturday evening.
This was confirmed by acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob who has vowed to use all resources available to arrest the killers in the swiftest possible time. Lashley is Tobago's tenth murder victim for this year.
According to police, 26-year-old Lashley, who worked at the Crown Point Police Station, was with friends at around 7.10 pm, at Providence Road, Les Coteaux when a black Kia Cerato stopped alongside them and two gunmen exited.
One of the men reportedly snatched Lashley's gold chain and then fired several shots at him. The men got back into the car which sped off.
Officers of the Moriah Police Station responded and took Lashley to the Scarborough General Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
In a press release on Sunday, Jacob said, "all resources of the TTPS and national security will be brought to bear in the investigations into the killing of the young officer and the island will be scoured until the perpetrators are brought to justice."
Jacob said a contingent of officers from the Inter-Agency Task Force as well as the Defence Force are in Tobago to help.
He extended condolences on behalf of the TTPS to Lashley's family and co-workers.
Newsday visited Les Coteaux on Sunday but everyone in the community refused to speak. In Bamboo Hill, Les Coteaux where Lashley lived, his relatives and neighbours remained tight-lipped. A man who was walking along the road hurried away when approached by this reporter. At a shop near to where Lashley was killed, no one wanted to speak.
Police Social and Welfare Association (PSWA) head Insp Gideon Dickson said the crime situation was very troubling.
“We are concerned with the state of murders at this point in time. We would continue to work alongside with the CoP, in terms of assisting with strategies to help curb what is taking place,” Dickson said.
He had a message for Lashley's killers.
“Please note the police service would not sit idly by and let justice not have its way.”
Dickson said the reality is that Tobago is a small-knit community and he is certain someone would have seen something.
“So we are calling on the public to come forward. If the person who would have perpetrated the act is aware that it was a police officer, it shows there has been a change in the attitude and they have no regard for whether you are law enforcement or not. The public can help us bring these people to justice according to law.”
Chief Secretary Farley Augustine described the latest murder on the island as, "a grave concern to me, this administration and Tobago as a whole."
He said crime-prevention discussions were held recently between himself and Minority Leader Kelvon Morris, and a date was set for resumption of talks and planning for a whole-of-Tobago approach to dealing with crime.
"While all the facts surrounding this latest crime isn’t at my disposal, it will certainly be something we will discuss at Tobago’s Security Council meeting this coming Friday.
"I also note, that there is a significant jump in violent crimes across the entire country. This should push communities to act. Solving crime has to go beyond purchasing more cars for the police or better fire-power. There must be a whole-of-community approach," Augustine said.
He promised a roll-out of strategies to tackle crime, even though the THA has no legal remit for national security.
Assemblyman for the area Zorisha Hackett said, “I didn’t sleep well last night. My heart hurts because I need to save my district.”
Tobago Business Chamber chairman Martin George expressed "great concern and consternation at the rising spate of murders in Tobago."
He added, "We are now almost at the rate of one per month. We of the Tobago Business Chamber are willing to work with the THA and TTPS to ensure a comprehensive, concrete plan is in place to secure all Tobagonians.”