Relatives of 51-year-old Franz Lavine, who was shot dead in St Ann’s near a bar on Saturday night, described him as a loyal, faithful and hard-working person and as a pillar in the Sandale Avenue community.
Relatives said Lavine had no enemies and was not involved in any criminal activities. They could only speculate that he died because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“He always stood for the right thing. Even when people would think he is wrong he would stand up for what he thinks is right,” said one of his sisters, Veronique Lavine, at their family home on Sandale Avenue, Diego Martin.
Lavine’s sister said although he had a chequered past, he had changed his life.
“For almost 20 years my brother has been a pillar in Diego Martin.” “Anyone would tell you that Franz is a good one. He changed his life for the best. I cannot see any reason whatsoever for this to happen to my brother.”
“As far as I know, my brother has no ‘rabs’ with anyone. It has to be a situation where he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Police reports said at about 5.30 pm last Saturday, Lavine and 44-year-old Hayden Etienne of St Ann’s Road, St Anns, were standing near 69 Bar on St Ann’s Road when a Black Nissan X-Trail pulled up. Two men got out of the vehicle and opened fire on a group of men liming at the bar. Lavine and Etienne were both shot multiple times.
Lavine ran a short distance before falling dead on the roadway, and Etienne was taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital but he died an hour later while undergoing emergency treatment. Police said two other people reportedly were shot, but up to press time only one man went to the hospital for treatment.
Lavine’s sister told Newsday he went for food at a restaurant near the bar, and while waiting, he ran into people he knew. He was talking to them when gunmen arrived at the scene and opened fire. She said his mother Deborah Lavine found out about his death over the phone while she was working at their bakery.
“I was working downstairs in the bakery, and my mother was upstairs with my niece and nephew. My niece and nephew came downstairs and said, ‘Aunty you have to go upstairs, granny is screaming.’ When I got upstairs I saw my mother screaming and crying. His girlfriend was on the phone, and she was screaming and crying. My younger brother took the phone and found out what happened and where it took place, and he left to go to the scene.”
She lamented the senselessness of the incident, saying that an innocent life was taken for no reason.
“Why? You just pull up and spray bullets? What are these people doing? What are they thinking?” “They ended an innocent man’s life, and for what? My question, and the question in the minds of the rest of my family, is why did this happen?”
Homicide officers led by Sgt Seecharan arrested a 29-year-old man in connection with the murders. The man is now said to be in hospital for treatment after sustaining injuries to his feet. Once he is discharged, he will be questioned in connection with the murders.
An autopsy is expected to be done at the Forensic Science Centre in St James on Tuesday.