Coconut vendor is third cousin killed in Trainline violence

Crime scene unit investigators gather evidence at the scene of a crime- File photo by Roger Jacob
Crime scene unit investigators gather evidence at the scene of a crime- File photo by Roger Jacob

A Curepe man who moved out of Trainline Village, St Augustine three months ago to avoid the ongoing turf war, which claimed the lives of two of his cousins, was riddled with bullets on Saturday morning outside a supermarket in Curepe.

Police reported that Roger Maraj, originally from Trainline Village, was selling coconuts at about 8.40 am at the corner of Jackson and Bushe Streets, when a carload of killers attacked him.

CCTV footage showed the front-seat passenger of a black Toyota Aqua leaning out to shoot Maraj as the car drove past him. When Maraj collapsed, two gunmen, one armed with a pistol and the other with an automatic rifle, approached and shot him repeatedly.

Maraj’s cousins Geno Shah and Dillon Joseph were killed this year in ongoing violence in the community.

Maraj, relatives said, moved out after Shah was killed and was living near his stall. He worked as a part-time taxi driver to support his six surviving children. One of his sons died five years ago of natural causes.

Speaking with the media at the scene, one of Maraj’s seven children, who asked not to be named, said her father just wanted to escape the bloodshed in his community.

“We moved out from dey. We come here just to get away from the problem in the back there and it still following we. My father was no part of that!

"We leave from the Trainline because of what was going on, and apparently they trying to get rid of anyone who lived there.”

The woman said her father always had a smile on his face, even when things were not going well.

“He was always laughing. If is one thing, he was for his children.

"He was not involved in any criminal activity. He realised the first set of shooting it had, we was in danger. When they shoot up the place, a lot of us get away from bullets. When he saw that, he made up his mind that the family could not live there any more.”

Another relative said Maraj was an easy-going man who never looked for trouble. The relatives questioned who was going to care for the family now, as Maraj was the sole breadwinner.

Roger Maraj -

“My father need justice! I have to get justice for my daddy,” his daughter lamented.

After Joseph was killed, police in the Northern Division, where the killings took place, promised a "strong" police presence to prevent further bloodshed.

During a walk through the area on May 10, the division’s ACP Wayne Mystar promised to increase patrols to reduce the levels of violent crime plaguing it.

While touring he spoke with Daniel Riley’s mother Helen Riley, who, like Maraj, fled after her son was killed.

Mystar, in an effort to comfort remaining residents, said there would be a daily police presence.

"I don't want to say we will be living inside here, but we will definitely be spending a lot of time in the community. Whether it takes us two weeks, three weeks or a month, we'll be spending some time to normalise this community.”

He added: “What we want to do is to empower the neighbourhood. There will be a static patrol that will be there every single day. We will be mandating our community police officers to have a foot patrol presence. It is going to happen consistently until it reaches a point where the community is back to normal."

Mystar said anti-crime operations in Trainline Village would be supported by the formation of a police youth club and stronger community relations through neighbourhood watch groups.

In a media release on Saturday, MP for the area Khadijah Ameen said she had been calling on the police and representatives of various government agencies to work with the community to treat the social issues making youths vulnerable to violence, criminal activities and gang involvement.

Ameen called on those involved in the killings to "put down the guns and let peace prevail." She said she is committed to bringing peace back to the community and called on National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds to do more to reduce the number of high-powered weapons entering the country and ending up in the hands of criminals.

Maraj was one of three men killed on Saturday morning. The others have been identified as Steven Phillip and Kershorn Ottley.

Police said Ottley, 33, of Market Lane, La Horquetta and Cydic Jordan, 28, of Plover Crescent, La Horquetta were standing on Plover Crescent around 4 am when two men shot them.

Ottley died at the scene. Jordan was taken to the Arima General Hospital, where he remains warded in a critical condition.

Steven Phillip -

In the other killing, Phillip, 42, was found murdered outside his Hummingbird Circular, Petit Valley home at about 5.30 am. Police said residents heard gunshots and later found Phillip dead.

Trainline murders

The Trainline killings began with Geno Shah’s murder in January, when he and 16-year-old Darshan Ramnauth were gunned down on January 24. Joseph was shot five times.

As the killers were leaving they saw Ramnauth running and chased after him. Ramnauth was going to check on his grandmother after hearing the gunshots.

On March 3, 26-year-old Aneesa Ramkissoon was gunned down after she reportedly refused to pay a "tax" to criminals in the area. The mother of three had given birth to her youngest a month before her death. Three days after her murder, her home was burnt to the ground.

A month later on April 5, Daniel Riley, 21, was killed at his Freeman Road home and his 16-year-old pregnant girlfriend was wounded. The couple’s unborn child died.

Three weeks later, on April 26, Joseph was attacked while selling watermelon near the Caroni roundabout, near the Cremation Site, by two gunmen and killed.

On May 3, while walking past Joseph’s wake, Kris Pooran, Ramnauth's cousin, was killed when two gunmen got out of a car and shot at the crowd at Joseph’s wake.


"Coconut vendor is third cousin killed in Trainline violence"

More in this section