(Trinidad Express) Hakeem Alexander, 16, who last year brought home a bronze medal for this country at the Carifta Games held in the Bahamas, and his 15-year-old cousin, schoolboy Tevin Alexander, were yesterday shot dead by police.
The number of police killings for the year now stands at 26.
Relatives said the teenagers were kneeling on the roadway with their hands raised in surrender when they were killed by uniformed police officers.
Police officers claimed they were greeted with gunfire when they entered the Chinapoo, Morvant, area yesterday and the teens were killed when the officers returned fire.
According to public information officer for the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, Insp Wayne Mystar, around 4.15 p.m. yesterday, officers of the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) and the North Eastern Division responded to reports of gunshots in the Chinapoo area in Morvant.
“On arrival at Wallace Road, they were greeted with gunfire. The police officers returned fire and two men were shot in the exchange,” Mystar said.
Mystar said the teens were taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital where they were both pronounced dead on arrival.
“Three other suspects related to the shooting were also apprehended and two firearms recovered,” Mystar said.
Relatives, however, yesterday disputed the Police Service’s version of events surrounding the death of the teens.
According to Tevin’s mother, Lisa De Leon-Alexander, the two teens were running toward their grandmother’s home in search of refuge as they were being shot at by a gunman when they were killed by police.
“I called him (Tevin) and he was breathless, he said, ‘Mummy, I am running. (Name called) and them now shoot up the block.’ I said, ‘Running where?’ He said, ‘I am going up by Aunty Josephine.’ I gave him five minutes and called him back. I said, ‘Where are you?’” she said.
“He breathless again. He said, ‘Them fellas coming up the hill, I going over the hill and going by granny.’ I said, ‘Why you so breathless?’ He said, ‘I am running.’ ‘I said, ‘Where Hakeem?’ He said, ‘Hakeem right here with me.’ So with that now I hang up the phone and called my mother,” she said.
“I called and said, ‘Mummy the children coming home, make sure they don’t leave the yard again.’ Then mummy called me back and she said, ‘I think they kill your child.’ I said, ‘They kill my child?’ So I kept calling his phone and no answer,” De Leon-Alexander said.
Tevin was a form four pupil at Belmont Secondary School.
His aunt ran out of her home when she saw the police officers force the teens to kneel and turned their guns on them, she said.
“From what my aunt is saying, because she is a stone’s throw away and she could see exactly what happened, she came out and she was begging for her nephew and they (the police) turned the gun on her. That is beyond outrageous,” De Leon-Alexander said.
“Somebody is seeing you doing something wrong. They are begging you not to do it as a human being and you still do it,” she said.
Leon-Alexander lamented that the same people hired to protect and serve are the ones who are killing them.
“Upstanding police officers came, shot two minors, took up their bodies like dogs and drop it in the van and drive off,” De Leon-Alexander said.
“Last time I checked their (the Police Service’s) motto was to protect and serve the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and not to kill the citizens. These are the people were are supposed to trust and they turn around and violate our trust. There is no word to describe how I feel,” she said.
Hakeem’s father, Henry Alexander, said he took his son to Bowen Marine yesterday to see about a job.
Hakeem stayed home from work last week because of ill health, Henry said.
Last year, Hakeem claimed bronze for Trinidad and Tobago in the boys’ under-17 3,000m event in 9:49.59 at the Carifta Games.
Alexander yesterday brought out the trophies and medals his son won from running.
Among the four trophies Henry brought out yesterday was one Hakeem got last year when he placed first in the Morvant Police Youth Club 10k event.
“Imagine they (the police) are the same ones who come now and kill him,” Henry said.
Hakeem is said to be the national record holder for the National Primary School’s 3k.
Among dozens of medals Henry brought out yesterday were a gold and silver medal his son got at the National Junior Championship last year.
Hakeem was a former pupil at Success Laventille Secondary School and a member of the Simplex Club.