Police officer shot outside Barataria bar, hunt for suspects

Police cars on a crime scene - File photo by Jeff K Mayers
Police cars on a crime scene - File photo by Jeff K Mayers

A police officer is being treated at hospital after he was shot near a bar in Barataria on February 10.

Reports say PC Aaron Francois, who was off-duty, was liming near a bar along Sixth Avenue when the incident occurred. Francois is attached to the Guard and Emergency Branch.

Francois was involved in a confrontation with several men liming near the bar at around 3 am, a police report said.

After the confrontation, a man approached Francois and fired several shots in his direction, hitting him.

The suspect escaped in a silver Nissan Tiida.

Francois was taken to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, where he remains warded.

A senior police officer said several operations were done in the North Eastern Division after the shooting incident but no suspects had been detained.

Hours after the shooting, police launched coordinated exercises in Barataria, San Juan and Mt Lambert.

They say the events leading up to Francois’ shooting are still being investigated.

Francois is the third officer to be shot for the year during an altercation while off-duty but the first to survive.

Early on February 9, Marlone Mitchell, who was attached to the TTPS legal unit, was shot dead with his own gun at a Couva bar during an altercation with another man. The suspect later surrendered to the police and led investigators to the officer's gun.

Witnesses reported hearing gunshots were heard at about 1 am at Lolita’s bar on Mc Bean, Southern Main Road.

Police arrived to find Mitchell lying face down outside the bar with a gunshot wound to his chest.

He died at the scene.

CCTV footage appeared to show Mitchell approaching another man and striking him after which the two begin to fight.

It is believed the other man wrested Mitchell’s personal gun away from him during the fight and shot him with it.

On January 18, PC Ravindra Harrinarine was shot dead next to his car in Spring Village, Valsayn during what police believe was an attempted robbery.

Reports say at 9.15 pm, three armed men approached the vehicle and opened fire.

Harrinarine shot back at them with his police-issued pistol firearm but sustained fatal injuries.

His gun was stolen after the shooting and police are yet to make any arrests despite the offer of a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect in his murder.

Harrinarine was attached to the Traffic Branch as was part of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s police escort.

Following his murder, Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher said there was nothing to indicate the shooting was linked to Harrinarine’s job.

Police Social and Welfare Association (PSWA) president Acting ASP Gideon Dickson on Friday urged police officers and civilians with licensed guns to draw their weapons only in life-and-death situations.

Meanwhile, on Saturday the police also called on the public to “embrace peace and non-violence” amid what it described as “a concerning rise in altercations escalating to gun violence.”

It said in a media release, “We implore individuals to have restraint, think about the consequences of your actions, choose dialogue and responsible conflict resolution and if the tensions are running too high simply walk away from what could be a dangerous and deadly situation.”

It urged people to practise Safety Measures Against Real Threats (SMART) and called on holders of licenced guns to use them only in self-defence situations.

“Remember that a moment of anger can have lifelong consequences: Think twice, three times or even four times if needed, and be SMART before resorting to violence. It's never the right answer and can shatter lives in an instant.”

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