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3 SHOT DEAD

By Nalinee Seelal and Ryan Hamilton-Davis Saturday, August 30 2014

click on pic to zoom in

A 35-year-old Cunupia man who spent time in prison several years ago for kidnapping and also had convictions for possession of drugs was shot dead along with another man by unknown assailants yesterday.

The double murder in addition to the shooting death of a teenager in Malabar yesterday afternoon brought the toll for the year so far to 284, some 40 more than the number of persons killed for the same period last year.

That figure may be 285 as of late last night, as at press time Newsday received an unconfirmed report of another shooting death in John John, Laventille.

Yesterday’s victims were identified as: Mitchum Maharaj of Piparo who was said to be holidaying with relatives in Cunupia; Satrohan Siewdath, alias “Shortman”, of Barrackpore, and 15-year-old Hashim Castillo of Malabar, Arima. The Cunupia killings occurred shortly after 9.30 am yesterday while the Malabar teen was murdered five hours later at about 2.30 pm.

According to police reports, residents of Jerningham Junction Road, Cunupia, were alerted to gunshots and notified officers of the Central Division. A party of officers led by Senior Superintendent Johnny Abraham, and including Inspector Terrence Williams, Sgt Jitindra Toolaram and others, along with officers of the Homicide Bureau responded.

When they arrived on the scene they saw the body of Siewdath clad in a shirt and jeans lying in a yard. He had been shot in the back of the head. Further checks led the officers to the body of Maharaj, a labourer also bearing gunshot wounds.

District Medical Officer Dr Reddy was contacted and the area was cordoned off. Police were told by relatives of Maharaj that he moved to Piparo two years ago but returned to his father’s home at Jerningham Junction to spend the August vacation.

Police investigators told Newsday Maharaj had previous convictions for possession of drugs but had been complaining about threats to his life. Maharaj also figured in a kidnapping case in 2002 in which he was sentenced to five years in prison by Justice Herbert Volney in December 2006 for his involvement in that crime. Two police officers were also sentenced to 15 and 17 years respectively for their role in the kidnapping.

When Newsday visited the scene of the double murders yesterday, Maharaj’s father, Pooran, described him as a good person but revealed also that his son had been receiving threats from some persons in the area. He added that persons were jealous of his son.

Newsday understands Siewdath was employed as a labourer with Maharaj’s father, a contractor, and had gone to his home to ask for directions to a job site. Police believed he had witnessed Maharaj’s murder and was killed as he was the lone eyewitness.

Maharaj’s father said he wanted justice for the death of his son and he believes the killers can be found in the Cunupia area.

“It is sad, I cannot bring back my son, what else can we do,” he moaned yesterday. “ I want justice for this killing, this should never happened.” The distraught father was in a daze as he spoke to Newsday yesterday and could not believe his son had been snatched away from him.

Also yesterday Rasheeda Ali, the common-law wife of Maharaj, told Newsday she had been living with the father of her two children for the past 12years and described him as a kind, faithful and compassionate person.

She said she was at the home of another relative when the shootings took place. Ali said when she was informed of the killing she felt as though it was all a bad dream. The weeping woman said, “All I want to do right now is to leave this in the hands of God and I know that I will get justice from Him.”

She said her husband had complained to her about threats to his life but she did not believe that the threats would end in his death.

Castillo is the 20th teenager to have been murdered so far this year.

His Facebook page revealed several pictures yesterday showing he appreciated the gangster lifestyle. Although he had pictures with the words, “I love Malabar” other pictures depicted a love for weed, with the words on one picture, “Keep calm and smoke weed.”

Many of his friends mourned his death leaving heartfelt messages on Castillo’s page. One friend said, “Just the other day ‘we ah smoke’ and drink and laugh. Just last week I was giving you advice to change your life, but say what, God knows why he took you.”

Another friend said, “You had a whole life ahead of you. I remember you always. Malabar isn’t nice anymore, sorry you had to be a victim to this.”

Castillo, a student of El Dorado East Secondary School was liming with two others, Justin Samuel, 17, and Raul Davis, 30, at a house on Tirike Lane, Malabar, when gunmen burst in and opened fire on the trio. Samuel and Davis managed to escape with superficial wounds, however Castillo was shot several times about the body and died on the scene.

Up to press time, the police had not determined the motive for Castillo’s murder.

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