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DEEP SORROW

By Stacy Moore Monday, December 23 2013

click on pic to zoom in

A soldier, a businessman, a teenage son, a father, and an unknown man. This is the roll call of five more murder victims, all slain by the bullets of gunmen in the late night between Saturday and early yesterday.

Their killings add to the body count of 398 (Newsday estimates) persons murdered for the year, with around one a day this month, making it one of the deadliest Christmas seasons in recent record.

In a single attack, three men were killed: Lance Corporal Rawle Fletcher, 34, National Energy Skills Centre (NESC) student Anil Diram, 19, and businessman Mitra Maharaj, 46. In a separate, shooting, Nijel Hosein, 38, of Diamond Village, La Paille, Caroni was killed, while police are seeking help to identify a man’s bullet-riddled body found in Laventille.

In the triple killings, all of the victims died on the spot after being shot multiple times near Inshan Ali Park, Polo Grounds, Preysal, Couva where scores of people gathered overnight Saturday for the All Fours Single Table Card Competition hosted by Black’s Bar where players were vying for prizes such as hogs, turkeys and ducks.

Police investigators believe the bullets were meant for Fletcher, and that Maharaj and Diram were caught in the line of the gunmen’s fire.

The fatal shootings occurred at about 3.25 am yesterday. Fletcher, Maharaj and Diram were near the park when a red SUV vehicle stopped, a window was lowered and someone pointed a gun and fired shots.

Then a gunman got out, and walked toward Fletcher, Maharaj and Diram who were all slumped to the ground. The gunman fired more shots at Fletcher, then escaped in the waiting SUV.

Many scampered for their lives at the sound of the gunshots. A woman said her first thought was that the gunmen had come to rob a bar.

“I was so frightened my hands were trembling, not knowing that they came to kill someone. What was really sad was the teenager who was just walking and got killed,” the woman said in disbelief.

This was the fifth year for the All Fours competition, and Diram’s second time as a player.

“How can we even think about Christmas now. It is a bad dream I feel I am living. Why my baby?” Diram’s mother, Molly, wept yesterday at the family’s home in Gran Couva.

“I would drop my baby boy anywhere he wanted to go and pick him up, and we dropped him off at the Inshan Ali Park last night (Saturday night) to take part in the All Fours Competition but I knew he would have got a lift back home with a neighbour. Only to hear that my baby was murdered,” she lamented.

Shortly before his death, Diram had finished the first half of the competition. He was heading to a parked Mazda 323 to rest before the second round.

“He didn’t even get to enter the car. He didn’t die in sickness. He was murdered. How will I come to terms with this, my only son,” Molly said.

Diram’s sister Jessica wants justice. “He did not deserve this. What justice will we get? He only now started to live,” Jessica said. Diram, a former student of Waterloo High School, was attending the NESC school where he pursued an air conditioning course.

Also grieving were the relatives of Fletcher, who lived at Polo Grounds Road. He was a member of the Regiment for nine years, and was a former footballer with the Defence Force team. He also coached a team in Preysal.

“My brother had no enemies that I knew of. In the village he was always helping out someone in whatever way he could have assisted. So I just don’t understand,” said his sister, Nekesha.

She said Fletcher had plans to spend Christmas with family and friends. Fletcher was liming with Maharaj, his friend. “He and Mitra (Maharaj) were very close. They were like brothers. I just can’t say why someone would do this,” Nekesha said. Fletcher was the father of three: Nadir,13, Renne,12, and ten-year-old Amelia George. Another sister, Deann, believes his killing may have been a case of mistaken identity.

“I just can’t put the pieces together. It is not adding up. Why they would want my brother dead?” Deann asked.

Fletcher was on injury leave from the Regiment after injuring one of his hands while playing football.

The Regiment yesterday extended condolences to his family. A statement sent by Civil Military Affairs Officer, Major Al Alexander stated Fletcher enlisted in August, 2004 and was currently employed at the Warrant Officers and Senior Rates Mess at the Defence Force Headquarters, Chaguaramas.

The release also stated the Defence Force was working with the police to find the killers.

Defence Force coach, Ross Russell, yesterday described his former player as an “asset” during his time with the Army/Coast Guard unit.

Fletcher was a squad member for Defence Force last season, helping them go all the way to win their third Pro League crown and second in three years.

Russell, a former national goalkeeper, remembered Fletcher’s discipline and unwavering commitment to his team.

“He was a (defensive) stopper and a very good one at that. If you need to mark out a player who would give you trouble he was the man for it and would be successful 95 percent of the time. My knowledge of him is that he’s a go-to player who will do anything to help the team. Any task you give him he will do it. He was genuine to me as a coach,” Russell told Newsday.

The Defence Force coach also noted that Fletcher was a source of inspiration to his teammates and will be missed.

Also, appealing for justice was Maharaj’s wife, Anita Balkaran.

“Christmas is Wednesday and now I would not get to spend Christmas for the next years with my husband. They took him from me,” Balkaran cried at her home at Orchards Drive, Chaguanas.

Seated on her lap was their two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Satya who kept saying, “Dada. Where dada?”

“She keeps asking for her father and I don’t know what to say to her,” Balkaran said. When she heard about the shooting, she immediately went to the scene.

“There was no one to watch, Satya, so I took her with me but I did not let her see the body. But she is a very intelligent child, and on our way back home she said to me, ‘Mama who kill dada? A bandit kill my dada?’ What do you say to a baby? And when she took my phone and she just started pressing numbers on the phone and then placed the phone to her face and said, ‘Dada’. When I asked her what he said she said, ‘Dada coming home tomorrow,’” Balkaran related.

Balkaran has two older children, Shivinand and Shivanne, from a previous relationship. “He loved his step children as his own and was always there to support them in anyway. But Satya he spoiled her and would look forward to spend time with her everyday,” she said.

Balkaran said she hopes her husband’s killers are found and justice prevails.

“My husband was innocent. Those bullets were not for him, now I have no Christmas and it hurts so much.” The scene was visited by Snr Supt Reyes, ACP Denoon, ASP Paul, Supt Johnny Abraham and others.

And, the fourth victim, Nijel Hosein, was shot dead at about 9 pm on Saturday. Police report that Hosein was an employee of a Unipet service station and was driving a company vehicle with his wife and two children along Esmeralda Drive, La Paille.

His car was blocked from behind by a silver vehicle and he was shot several times on the right lower side of his body. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope.

His murder is being investigated by Cpl Francis of the Caroni Police Station.

Also, police are seeking the public’s help to identify a murdered man whose body was found by a police patrol on Saturday night at a trace at St Barbs, Laventille.

The man is described as slim and in his thirties, and he had several gunshot wounds to the head. He was the fifth murder victim in TT in the last 24 hours.





















































And, the fourth victim, Nijel Hosein, was shot dead at about 9 pm on Saturday. Police report that Hosein was an employee of a Unipet service station and was driving a company vehicle with his wife and two children along Esmeralda Drive, La Paille.















His car was blocked from behind by a silver vehicle and he was shot several times on the right lower side of his body. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope.















His murder is being investigated by Cpl Francis of the Caroni Police Station.















Also, police are seeking the public’s help to identify a murdered man whose body was found by a police patrol on Saturday night at a trace at St Barbs, Laventille.















The man is described as slim and in his thirties, and he had several gunshot wounds to the head. He was the fifth murder victim in TT in the last 24 hours.

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