Lawyer shot dead in car
By Sasha Harrinanan and Andre Bagoo Wednesday, August 28 2013
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Killed in car: Attorney Dr Wesley Debideen was shot dead in his Nissan Almera car at Grand Bazaar, Valsayn yesterday. His killer fired shots to the si...
Dr Wesley Debideen was eating ice cream as he drove through Grand Bazaar in Valsayn when a car pulled suddenly in front of his, forcing him to stop, and a gunman got out and fired seven shots killing the prominent attorney.
The shooting, which occurred at about 3.45 pm, sent shoppers and employees at stores scampering, as the gunman cooly got into his car and drove out of the compound.
Debideen’s murder also shocked the legal fraternity and his clients, which include former Hindu Credit Union (HCU) president Harry Harnarine, who had spoken to the lawyer hours before his death about pending legal matters. Debideen was part of a legal team, led by Farid Scoon, who represented Harnarine at the Clico/HCU Inquiry.
In a statement, the Ansa McAl Group, owners of Grand Bazaar, said it had been advised of the shooting and expressed regret at the “unfortunate loss” of life and extended condolences to the dead man’s family.
Several eyewitnesses gave clear accounts about seeing Debideen buying ice cream, and then moments later being shot dead in what they described as “a hit”.
One man, who asked to be named Bob for his protection, said he saw a man of African descent fire three shots into the window of the front right door of Debideen’s car, a blue Nissan Almera. The shooter then walked to the front and fired four more shots into the windscreen, as Debideen slumped dead in his seat.
Debideen had bought an ice cream at The Candy Cottage and was driving south along Circle Road East when a Mazda 323 car intercepted his car, forcing him to stop. The driver of the Mazda, who wore a black skull cap and black T-shirt, got out and began shooting.
“The man was walking from the driver’s side door of (Debideen’s) car, toward a red Mazda 323 car parked in front of the Almera, when he stopped, turned back and fired four more shots through the driver’s side of the windscreen. Based on the bullet holes in the driver’s side window, he was probably standing next to the driver’s side door when he fired the first three shots,” said the eyewitness.
After firing the last of seven shots, the shooter walked back to the Mazda, which had darkly-tinted windows, and calmly drove off.
“He didn’t speed or anything, just calm and cool, made a right turn and left the scene. Because he took his time, we were able to take note of his licence plate, what he was wearing, that sort of thing,” Bob recalled.
Bob, who has a background in security training, said before a crowd had gathered, he noticed four shell casings on the ground, not too far from the lawyer’s car. He said they looked like they had come from a .45 hand gun.
“(Debideen) had two bullet wounds on his left arm, one high up on the forearm and one in his upper arm. A next bullet went through his ribs, on the right side, but I don’t know how many times he was actually shot. Those were the only wounds I could see. Imagine, the fella was eating ice cream when this man just start firing shots into his car,” Bob said.
A woman said she was buying snacks at The Candy Cottage and had seen Debideen buying ice cream. She and another woman left the store and were heading to Pennywise Cosmetics when they heard three loud shots.
“We just started running. I didn’t look back until we reached Pennywise, and that’s when I realised the man who had just bought some ice cream inside the candy store while we were there, was the same man who had gotten shot. I’m so scared right now, so scared,” the woman said.
After the shooter left, several people approached Debideen’s car to see if he was still alive and needed help. Since the doors were locked someone smashed part of the right back seat window to open the door in a bid to help Debideen who, another eyewitness said, was “slumped over to the left, with ice cream running down the left side of his mouth.”
One person called for increased security at the mall, including armed guards, saying there is no alarm system in place to alert shoppers and tenants to possible danger.
“The only shops that closed for the afternoon were those cordoned off by the police. Everywhere else stayed open and unless you were headed in the back by Pennywise or the eastern side of the food court, you wouldn’t even know a man got shot here,” said the shopper.
However, in its statement Ansa McAl said security personnel at Grand Bazaar responded to the gunshots and secured the area.
“We will continue to do what is necessary to ensure the safety and comfort of our customers and tenants at Grand Bazaar,” the statement concluded.
Ansa McAl disclosed the shooting is under investigation by Inspector Mark of the St Joseph Police Station. St Joseph CID officers, led by Sgt Vetus Hernandez, as well as investigators of the Homicide Division II, Arouca and Northern Division Task Force responded to the report of the shooting.
Harnarine, who went to the murder scene, said officers told him his lawyer had left a bank at Grand Bazaar shortly before he was gunned down.
“He came out of a bank and when he was about to enter his Almera, he was gunned down. You know how lawyers need cash to pay administrative staff and so on. That is what they said: that it was a car-jacking or robbery,” Harnarine said.
Harnarine said when he spoke with Debideen earlier yesterday they touched on HCU matters, politics and about meeting for a drink this weekend. He noted Debideen was in Family Court in Port-of-Spain yesterday.
In addition to the Commission of Inquiry, Debideen was closely involved with several cases brought by Harnarine at the Supreme Court in relation to the affairs of HCU including one legal claim for $100 million from the State.
Scoon was shocked by the murder of his colleague with whom he had worked for the past eight years.
“I am shocked at this development and I am comforted that from God we come and it is to God we return,” he said.