|BIRTHDAY BLOODSHED |
KWAME WEEKES Thursday, January 5 2017
MERRIMENT to celebrate Daniel Spencer’s birthday, during the early morning hours on Tuesday, turned into a bloodbath as gunmen with automatic weapons stormed the bash and opened fire, shooting ten persons including Spencer, leaving three dead and seven wounded. Three of the seven are in critical condition at hospital.
The shooting left residents of Commonwealth Drive in Freeport in a state of shock and bewilderment with residents saying that their quiet community has been scarred by this incident permanently.
The dead have been identified as Michael Brown, 26; Winston Edwards and Elton Amera.
Birthday boy Spencer was shot in the arm and face and is one of three persons warded in critical condition.
Police reported that the victims were liming at Spencer’s home when at 12.3o am, without warning, gunmen emerged from nearby bushes, stormed the house and shot the occupants with automatic weapons. As persons started dropping to the ground under the hail of bullets, the gunmen left the house and disappeared into the night. Several persons were rushed to hospital. Of the seven survivors, four were treated for flesh wounds and discharged.
Police sources said that this mass shooting which left three dead plus an unrelated murder in Santa Cruz, have sent the country’s murder toll within the first four days of 2017, to seven. Eyewitnesses were willing to tell their story but too afraid to give their names.
“I was coming outside in my gallery to blow up balloons and make party bags when I heard people running through the bush in my backyard. I had to gather all my children and put them in one room. I saw about seven or eight of men, some with small guns and two with big, long guns,” said a resident. The person said that rapid gunfire was then heard followed by the gunmen slinking back into the bushes from whence they came.
“This place was quiet but now we have been stained by this incident.
They could call her hell town now,” another resident said. Relatives of Brown told Newsday that he was a hard-working young man who worked construction, reared sheep and goats and loved to care for birds.
His life, they say, was taken away for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Relatives said that Brown was a childhood friend of Edwards, who in turn was a cousin to Spencer __ the host of the birthday party.
Brown’s common-law-wife Racquel Hypolite wept as she reminisced on the good times spent with him. “He was a good man who did not deserve to die this way...gunned down like a dog in the road,” she cried. Relatives of Amera and Edwards were too distraught to speak with reporters.
The bodies of the three victims were taken to the Forensic Science Centre in St James for autopsies.
Contacted on the incident, Head of Police Central Division Snr Supt Kenny McIntyre said the police were in the process of putting together an official statement on the matter. He said the number of gunmen remains unknown and investigations were at a very sensitive stage at this point in time and he would not want to comment further.
Member of Parliament for Couva North Ramona Ramdial, in a statement, called on Minister of National Security Edmund Dillon, Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams and others to “act immediately” on the mass shooting. “In addition to these shootings and murders there is also an increase in robberies of businesses and homes. The businesses in Central are reeling from the negative impact of crime.
Constituents are living in fear daily as they go to sleep wondering if their lives and property will fall victim to the criminals,” Ramdial said in the release.
She also asked for confirmation on whether the promise made by Minister Dillon to establish an army base in Chaguanas would be fulfilled. “It must not continue like this where citizens live in mortal fear daily. Our leaders, especially those entrusted with the responsibility for safety and security of the nation, must step up and act now. Trinidad and Tobago is fed up of the talk and we the people deserve more.” Freeport Police are continuing investigations.
Up to press time, no arrest was made.