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WITHIN the space of six-and-a-half hours, between Wednesday night and yesterday morning, police in Chaguanas and Laventille shot and killed four men in two unrelated shoot-out incidents, bringing to 14, the number of persons killed by police this year in exchanges of gunfire.

In the first incident, two men who robbed a Claxton Bay private-hire (PH) taxi driver and two passengers of a quantity of cash, cellphones and other valuables were killed in a shoot-out with police at Xavier Street off the Endeavour Link Road in Chaguanas at 10.45 pm on Wednesday. During the shoot-out, a constable of Freeport Highway Patrol was shot in his right hand.

One of the dead bandits was identified as Satrohan Ramdhanie, 22, of Plantana Drive, Dyett Estate, Cunupia.

Ramdhanie was positively identified by his father Naresh Ramdhanie while the second bandit was identified by police as Anthony Hospedales, 18, of Sunflower Drive, Dyett Estate, Cunupia. Speaking at the scene in Chaguanas on Wednesday night, Snr Supt Johnny Abraham said, “I want to thank my officers for a job well done. Everyday we as officers are not sure to return home alive. Even as guns were blazing, my officers stuck to the task and risked their lives to do their duty, to do their job. I always tell my officers we are paid to do a job and do it we must. We are not hiding...we will deal with them and sometimes we have to make decisive decisions and no problem. We pursued these men relentlessly.”

Ramdhanie’s father refused to comment saying all he is concerned about now is to collect his son’s body for a funeral. Hospedales’ mother Ann Marie Olton, in an interview yesterday, said her son used to frequently spend the night at their neighbour’s home, so when he did not come home on Tuesday, she was not at all concerned about his whereabouts.

However, when she dialed his cellular phone, it was switched off and she made enquiries to locate her son, but to no avail. It was when she went to Cunupia Police Station to file a Missing Persons report, that Olton was told to go to the Chaguanas Police Station where she was told her son had been killed in a shootout with police.

Speaking about the eldest of her six children, Olton said she was unaware her son was involved in crime. “My son never brought home any stolen items neither did he give me any indication that he was involved in crime. It is my belief he was asked to accompany this other person on a ride and was innocently caught up in this robbery and shoot-out with the police,” Olton said.

Police sources told Newsday at about 10.45 pm on Wednesday, Shawness Hosein, 29, of Spring Vale Village, Claxton Bay was driving his car along Pointe-a-Pierre Road in San Fernando with four male passengers, en route to Couva.

When Hosein neared the Petrotrin refinery compound, one of the passengers asked to be dropped off at the Augustus Long Hospital at Beaumont Hill. When Hosein brought his car to a stop, a passenger pulled out a gun while another passenger announced a hold-up.

Hosein was robbed of US$1,060, a cellphone valued $6,000 and the keys to his recently purchased Nissan Bluebird car. The two other passengers were also robbed. Hosein and the two other passengers were then forced out of the car by Ramdhanie and Hospedales who drove off in the car at St Margaret’s Village.

A report was made and police issued an All-Points-Bulletin (APB) with the stolen car being spotted proceeding near Sum Sum Hill. A chase then ensued during which gunshots were exchanged between the bandits and police. The car was forced to stop as a result of a road block in Freeport, with Ramdhanie and Hospedales shooting at the police who returned fire.

Constable Ramsey of Freeport Highway Patrol was shot in his right hand. The bandits managed to drive off from the roadblock, but were spotted on Xavier Street off the Endeavour Link Road, Chaguanas where the vehicle was intercepted by Central Division police near a used car lot at Endeavour Link Road by officers led by Snr Supt Johnny Abraham and including Sgt Jitendra Toolaram and others. Another exchange of gunfight ensued this time with both bandits being shot multiple times.

Ramdhanie and Hospedales were taken to Chaguanas Health Centre where they were pronounced dead on arrival. A 9 mm semi-automatic pistol and four rounds of ammunition, a cellular phone valued $6,000 and US$1,000 were recovered in the stolen car.

Laventille ‘menaces’ taken out

In the second incident, two men who were described by Laventille residents as “menaces” were shot dead by police during an exchange of gunfire after officers sought to execute a search warrant at the suspects’ home at Sapodilla Trace, Laventille.

The dead gunmen have been identified as Jerome “Cookie” Clunis, 21, and Gilbert “Gaza” Browne, 22. According to a police report, at about 5.15 am yesterday, a party of North-Eastern Task Force officers led by Insp Roger Alexander and including Cpl Sunil Bharath and others went to a house at Sapodilla Trace, Laventille to execute a search warrant.

As the officers walked up to the house, they were fired upon by two men with officers taking cover and returning gunfire, hitting the suspects — Clunis and Browne — several times.

Both men were taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital where they were pronounced dead on arrival. Police sources said that an UZI submachine gun was seized inside the house.

Residents along Critchlow Trace were yesterday celebrating news of the death of the two men with several telling Newsday that Clunis and Browne were “menaces”. The residents commended the police for their swift action.

“They were a pestilence to this community since August of last year,” said a resident of Critchlow Trace. The resident said Clunis and Browne were known to the community as gangsters operating on instructions from a gang leader who is currently imprisoned.

The Critchlow Trace residents’ views were not shared by residents of Sapodilla Trace with several saying that Clunis and Browne were nice persons who were not involved in crime.

“Ask anybody on this street about Clunis and Browne and you will hear those two never bothered anyone,” said a Sapodilla Trace resident. The resident said Clunis was a vendor while Browne was in construction.

Browne’s mother Marylin Browne, 45, said her son was a loving, kind person who enjoyed playing football. Asked about claims that her son was a gangster, Browne said he was not a member of any gang to her knowledge.

“They used to say all kinds of things about my son. I asked him myself if he was involved with any gang and he told me, ‘mammy I not in nothing’,” Browne said as she spoke with Newsday yesterday at the Forensic Science Centre, St James.

Clunis’ girlfriend Nikita Door-gadeen said she was present when the police raided the Sapodilla Trace house and claimed that officers shot both Browne and Clunis in cold blood.

She said officers kept demanding to know where guns and ammunition were hidden in the house. “The policeman told me, ‘if you don’t tell me, I will kill them.’ I told him I don’t know what guns they were talking about. He said, ‘I am giving you one last chance.’ I said again that I don’t know about any guns and the officer said, ‘fine, then I’m going to kill them’.

“After that I could see the officers putting handcuffs on Jerome and then I just heard shots. First I heard two single shots and after I just heard police guns just going off. When they came outside they made me leave the house and I went to my sister’s home,” Doorgadeen said.

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