There was outrage and shock yesterday after prominent businessman Mohan Persad and his wife, Shirley Persad, both 78, were attacked at their house in New Grant before dawn on Tuesday.
Persad owns Persad's D' Food King supermarkets.
Armed intruders beat him and his wife, tied them up and robbed them of cash, jewellery, two registered guns with ammunition, and their firearm user's licence.
The intruders also stole two cell phones worth about $6,000 and a DVR.
A police report said the victims were awakened at around 3 am on Tuesday and saw six intruders inside the house at Sixth Company Road.
The intruders are believed to have got in by prying open a window, and left through the front door.
The couple managed to untie themselves and alerted the police.
WPC Harripersad, PCs Harripersad and Harricharan, and other police went to the scene and gathered evidence.
PC Harripersad is leading investigations.
Newsday visited the community, but the injured couple were not at home. A relative told Newsday they were seeking medical care at a private institution.
Several tents were pitched in the yard, and the relative said Persad was preparing to host Hindu prayers (Pitru Paksha) on Sunday to pay homage to his ancestors.
"It is to pray for those who have passed. We pray that their journeys are safe in the hands of Lord Krishna.
"He does not make jokes with his prayers. That is probably what has him alive to this day," a relative, who asked to remain unnamed, said.
"They were preparing for it in the past week, and now this has happened.
"The crime in this country is ridiculous. It is upsetting. This is the first time something like this has happened here.
"He is like a godfather to the community. He lives good with people. He helps a lot of people."
Persad's has eight locations, including two in Princes Town.
A resident added that by 6 am, when she learned what had happened, the couple had already been taken for medical treatment. Because of that, she had not yet had a chance to speak to them about the ordeal.
President of the Supermarket Association (SATT) Rajiv Diptee said the association condemned the incident "in the strongest possible terms." He said Persad is a foundation member. He also criticised the crime surge, adding that home invasions have the business community on edge.
"We stand committed and ready to assist the family. We would like to see what the authorities are planning to do, given the developments from the budget, as well as call for serious consequences to accompany these crimes," Diptee told Newsday.
"There should be deep and dire consequences for these acts. These acts on the elderly are crimes of opportunity, because these criminals would have to know the victims and their circumstances and maybe an idea or conception in their heads that there is x and y in the house."
He said such victims are nationwide and called for a holistic approach to crime.
Diptee added: "People are scared. Home is a sacred place. Invasions speak to a serious deterioration in the social fabric of our society. There is a loss of norms."
President at Greater San Fernando Area Chamber of Commerce (GSFCC) Kiran Singh referred to the incident as "unfortunate" and "very worrying."
"We continue to worry that the police should be more aggressive in apprehending these criminals who continue to attack innocent people, especially those who are easy targets, those of pensionable age," Singh said.
He referred to comments on social media about the homeowners’ use, or lack of use, of licensed guns in the home as "foolishness."
"Suppose they had used guns. They might have been dead now, because violence creates violence.
"This couple has worked hard to build their businesses."
Moruga/Tableland MP Michelle Benjamin said in a statement it was a sad day for the community as people grapple with the shocking news of the prominent businessman and valued stakeholder falling victim to a vicious attack perpetrated by rogue elements plaguing the area.
The Opposition MP said the community considered Persad a beacon of hope. He has contributed to the local economy and played a vital role in fostering unity and development.
"This brazen act of violence not only threatens the safety of individuals but also the very fabric of the community itself. The incident serves as an immense reminder of the challenges faced by many communities across TT where lawlessness and criminal activity seem to thrive," Benjamin said.
She added that it highlights the urgent need for the Ministry of National Security, local law-enforcement agencies, and other stakeholders to come together and take decisive action to rid these areas of the menace of rogue elements.
"Community members must also unite in solidarity, providing support to the victim and working hand in hand with the authorities to ensure that justice is served, and their neighbourhood can once again thrive in peace."
As the MP, she said she stands with "Mr Persad D Food King" and all other constituents.