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SCHOOLBOYS SHOT DEAD

By Ryan Hamilton-Davis Friday, January 22 2016

click on pic to zoom in

TWO teenaged boys left their school, Success Laventille Secondary following classes yesterday afternoon, but never made it home to their families. Instead, Denilson Smith, 17, and Mark Richards, 15, were shot dead by an unknown gunman a short distance from their homes at Mulrain Trace and Soogren Trace, in Picton, respectively. They were pulled out of the private-hire (PH) car in which they were travelling and murdered by the gunman on the roadway. They were still in their uniforms when they were slaughtered. The killings brought the murder toll for the year to 33.

Newsday was told the teens were travelling in a PH taxi in the company of two other school children along Picton Road, at about 2.55 pm, minutes after school was let out. Just then, the vehicle was intercepted by a gunman. The two teens were dragged out of the vehicle while the other teens fled. The gunman killed Richards on the spot and shot Smith dead while he was running away. One of Smith’s siblings, who was in a vehicle behind the PH taxi, told Newsday, “I was driving in a car behind them with my cousin and all of a sudden we heard gunshots. The driver jumped out of the vehicle so I decided to follow him. When I reached up the road I saw my brother. I ran up to him and touched his face. I knew he was dead...I just started crying and crying.” Police and emergency services were contacted and officers of the Port-of-Spain Division responded and cordoned off the scene. Relatives of the dead teens arrived and screams could be heard. The mother of one of the victims, cried out: “Oh god! Oh God! I send my child to school good this morning, why did they kill him?” Curious onlookers lamented the heinous shooting as police cordoned off and processed the scene.

One resident said “They don’t even care if you in school uniform or if you out of school uniform. They just killing any and everybody.” Inez Phillips, Denilson’s mother, told Newsday her son dreamed of being a pilot. “My son was not in any gang. He was an exceptional child,” said Phillips. “The last thing I told him before I sent him off to school was to make sure and learn something today (yesterday). I never expected I would have to see a picture of my son with the caption: ‘murdered in Laventille’. He did not deserve this. Oh God! he did not deserve this!” GARCIA HORRIFIED Minister of Education Anthony Garcia, who is in Jamaica attending a meeting of the Finance and General Purposes Committee of the University of the West Indies, expressed horror on learning of the execution type murder of the students.

He immediately contacted his Permanent Secretary Gillian Mc Intyre, who dispatched a threeman team of Senior Education officials to the scene of the crime.

“I am truly shocked and appalled over this (crime),” Garcia told Newsday, speaking from Kingston.

“I can only describe what I have heard as barbaric.” Garcia was concerned that crime had arrived at a level in which students in uniform could be pulled out of a vehicle that was taking them home and killed so mercilessly. “I do not want to believe that our students, going home after their day at school are no longer safe,” Garcia said.

President of the TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA), Devanand Sinanan, expressed similar sentiments, saying he was rendered almost speechless when he heard about the killing of the students.

“I am very very disturbed,” he said. “Very saddened. When will this end,” Sinanan asked rhetorically.

“What is really taking place in Trinidad and Tobago. What have we become as a society when our children can’t leave school and reach home alive.” He said what was worse was this was happening after gunmen ran trough a primary school in Laventille on Wednesday afternoon shooting off their firearms in the air. He said the teachers of the school were so traumatised that they refused to go to he building yesterday, choosing instead to report at an office of the Education Ministry in Belmont. “They are terrified and they are afraid to go to school,” Sinanan said.



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