Gunmen spray bullets at PoS General Hospital

(Trinidad Express) A nurse who was used as a human shield during a shooting incident at the Port of Spain General Hospital yesterday afternoon remained in critical but stable condition at the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit last night.

She is mother of two, Alexis Bhagan, 28, of Barataria.

Police have so far been unable to interview her due to her condition.

Bhagan was one of three victims who were shot when a gunman walked on to the hospital’s compound looking for a particular person.

Police said that shortly after noon yesterday, the intended target of Nelson Street, Port of Spain and Chavez Toppin, 20, also of Nelson Street brought one of their friends to the hospital for follow-up treatment after a shooting several weeks ago.

The men left their friend at the Accident and Emergency Department of the hospital and walked over to the food vending area of the hospital to buy doubles.

As they stood in front of the vendor, Toppin and the other man were approached from behind by the gunman who was armed with a .38 revolver.

Toppin and the other man reportedly turned around just in time to see a gun pointed at them following which the other man grabbed Bhagan and placed her in front of him just as the gunman opened fire.

Bhagan was hit in her face and as she fell the gunman continued firing, hitting Toppin in his abdomen. The other man ran off but while doing so the gunman continued firing, hitting Celene Vialva also aged 28. She was struck in the left foot.

The gunman then ran out of the hospital’s car park heading south along Charlotte Street. He escaped into the East Dry River area.

He remained at large up to press time last night. Police spent most of yesterday afternoon searching through the east Port of Spain area.

Bhagan, Toppin and Vialva were taken to the Accident and Emergency section of the hospital where they were treated.

Bhagan was first moved to the St Clair Medical Centre where a CT scan was done following which she was brought back to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. The gunman’s intended target was not injured and up to press time last night he was being interviewed by investigators.

Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan told the Express, “At the end of day, we hope the people who got injured make a full recovery with very little or no long-term issues. I mean things (yesterday’s incident) such as these are difficult to predict and we are in a catchment area…a hot-spot. Our staff need counselling and I am satisfied that our chairman (North West Regional Health Authority chairman Eddie Haqq) is on top of things. The police will do their part and we will do ours.”

Haqq who also spoke to the Express said they have since increased their internal  security presence at the hospital and have asked the police for regular patrols.

This however is not the first time someone has been attacked on the compound of the Port of Spain General Hospital.

In December 2001, a Cocorite man, Ronald Isaac, 33, was shot dead while he was at the hospital’s Ward 51.

Days earlier he had been shot but survived and was taken to the hospital. About two days after being admitted to the hospital the gunmen walked on to the ward and finished him off.

In December 2006 there was an attempt to murder another man at the hospital.

ASP Ajith Persad of the Port of Spain CID is spearheading enquiries into this incident.


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