Murdered sickle-cell teen’s mom forgives son’s killers
By JULIEN NEAVES Tuesday, September 17 2013
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Naim Antoine, killed by gunmen on August 14 last....
LAST month Natasha Rogers purchased phone cards for her son Naim Antoine, but he could not use them. She went to visit with him in Duncan Street, but he was not there. Friends and family had to keep reminding her that her — 16- year-old son was dead.
On August 14 last, Antoine was brutally shot and murdered. At about 4 am he was asleep at an apartment on Duncan Street when two men stormed in, and dragged him out of bed at gun-point.
The frail teenager, who suffered from sickle-cell disease, was heard screaming for help as the gunmen took him by force to George Street, beat him with blunt instruments and then shot him 34 times about the body before fleeing the scene.
“I accept his death, but not like that,” said Rogers.
She was speaking to Newsday yesterday during an interview from her Diego Martin home.
On that day Antoine’s cousin Rasheeda Gomez, also 16, was shot and killed in a Housing Development Corporation (HDC) apartment on Duncan Street.
The cousins were two of six people executed by gunmen within a 20-hour period in separate shootings in East Port-of-Spain, Laventille and Maloney. Rogers believes they were innocent victims of a deadly turf war.
When Rogers heard the news that her son was dead she fainted. She never expected he would die in such a violent and horrible manner, having never been involved in criminal activity. She noted that he was too sickly to beat up anyone, or shoot anybody.
“Not Antoine ,” she said, shaking her head thoughtfully. She stressed that innocent children are killed sometimes, and they are not all involved in gang activity.
“People like to judge too quickly she pointed out.”
At the time of the interview she was at home with her two youngest children, 10-year-old Nareisha, and Matthew, who is a- year-and-a-half.
Nareisha told her mom she is now starting to miss Naim because she learned a lot from him. He taught her to draw, save money, iron her shirt and keep the place clean. Naim would also cook for his family though not always successfully; he once made a soup without water.
“He was a responsible, mature person, even though he was nashy nashy (small built),” she said.
Her eldest son Shaquille, 21, lives at his own HDC apartment in Duncan Street and Rogers is now concerned about his safety.
She noted that despite meeting with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar personally during her visit to Duncan Street the week of the murders and officials taking her contact information, she had not received a phone call from anyone.
“I not looking forward to anything,” she said, adding that she depends on God.
Noting the plans by security forces to set up a joint police and army post on Duncan Street and to increase police presence Rogers said the only time the Duncan Street community will change is, if the hearts of the people change.
Rogers recalled growing up on Duncan Street, and it was an environment of people selling drugs. Though she was tempted to be involved she wanted a different life and prayed to God that she could come out.
“It’s a battle. You can’t depend on Government. You have to keep focus,” she said. She recalled that the crime situation was bad even back then, though criminals had upgraded from cutlasses to guns. She moved out two decades ago, at age 20. She noted that in her area in Diego Martin, however, there were also gang turf wars.
“It’s terrible. You thinking you come out of it (from Duncan Street) and like you running into it. Only God to hold on to,” she said.
In her house their hung a picture of the Last Supper, which Antoine had picked out for her. She said though her home was small her family had love in it, and the children were very close.
Antoine was her “eyeball”, and was always very loving and affectionate to her.
She noted he lost his father nine years ago, and it took a deep emotional toll on him. He was planning to learn a trade this year just like his father, who was a welder and electrician. He was ambitious and dreamed of getting a job, and becoming rich.