A BARATARIA man was shot and killed, while two others suffered gunshot wounds in a shooting behind a preschool at Pamberi Panyard, Santa Cruz Old Road, San Juan, just after 4 pm on Tuesday.
Newsday understands the victim, Steffon “Turtle” Garrick, 40, was in the company of a friend and another man when a lone gunman entered the panyard and began shooting. Residents who overheard the gunshots said they believed over a dozen shots were fired from an automatic weapon.
In addition to the gunshot wounds, witnesses who saw the two men being taken away by ambulance said their legs also appeared to be broken, likely from their desperate attempts to escape.
Their full names, ages and addresses were not revealed by the police. When Newsday arrived, the body was obscured from view behind the preschool building, while residents and a growing number of members from the Pamberi Steel Orchestra were gathered at the entrance to the panyard.
A number of the onlookers spoke with Newsday on the condition of anonymity. Most were of the view that Garrick was not the intended target but instead one of the other men who was injured.
First division officers and forensic experts were processing the crime scene when Newsday arrived but were unwilling to share more information about the incident or details about the victims.
Relatives of Garrick were notified and a cousin of his arrived at the panyard and appeared to be in a state of shock. Garrick’s sister, whom one resident said was the last surviving member of his immediate family, was reportedly too distraught to visit the scene.
One member of the Pamberi band told Newsday there have never been major incidents of crime, violent or otherwise, in the particular area. But in recent months, police have been called to deal with men, particularly outsiders, selling cannabis and likely other drugs.
Members of the Pamberi Steel Orchestra say they fear the growing instances of panyards being used as havens for small and large-scale drug trafficking and other illegal activities. The preliminary round of single pan judging is currently taking place at panyards throughout the country. Pamberi’s panyard is scheduled to host its prelimary round for judging on Saturday.
Tuesday’s shooting has taken this year’s murder toll to 534.