Police link T&T triple murder to the sale of state lands

(Trinidad Guardian) Three people were executed in the peaceful Valencia district on Friday night. The victims were each shot multiple times in the head. While residents are claiming that the killings of Keron Ruiz, 29, Eric “Rumple” Ruiz, 33, and Tenika Bartholomew, 23, were as a result of a robbery gone awry, police said the executions stemmed from the sale of state lands that might have gone sour.

Police said cousins Keron and Eric were found in the living room of their Ma Jack Hill, home covered in blood after gunmen opened fire on them around 9.30 pm. Bartholomew, the girlfriend of Eric, was shot on the eastern side of the house.

Eastern Division police, led by Senior Superinten-dent Sasenarine Mahabir and including ASP Khanai, Sgt Lopez, WPC Lopez, as well as Crime Scene Investigators and Homi-cide Division officers, were on the scene intermittently after 3 am to carry out investigations. Police officers said that soon after they arrived on the scene around 10 pm, there was the sound of gunshots, but they could not investigate because the area had no street lights and was heavily forested.

The officers were on the scene on Saturday morning with dogs, but turned up empty handed. Family members said Eric was robbed earlier this year. Police, however, said they were also investigating reports that he sold plots of state lands to the public for people to squat. Officers said it was possible that he made a transaction earlier this week that went sour.

Police have since stepped up their visibility in the Valencia area to ensure there is no reprisal. Eric’s sister Teri Antoine said Bartholomew, who tried to escape from the gunfire, ran out of the house but fell. “The gunmen came over her and sprayed her head with bullets. Look pieces of her brain still on the ground,” a tearful Antoine said.

“They did the same thing to Eric and Keron. Whoever do this we have to get justice.  Just so, just so, three lives gone. If you go inside you would see cucumbers and ochroes that Eric reaped yesterday. He had planned to take it to the market to sell this morning.” Antoine said a few months ago her brother was robbed of his vehicle, a mist blower and $5,000 in cash.

“Eric vowed that if bandits ever attacked him again he would go down fighting. It look like they come to rob him again and he put up a fight and they kill all of them. I think the killings was a robbery gone sour,” Antoine said. “I can’t see any other reason. They were not involved in drugs, guns or illegal activities.” As she busily cleaned the splattered blood on the living-room wall, Antoine could not say if anything had been stolen from the house.

On Saturday, family members described the victims as decent, loving and easygoing. Gillian Primus said Bartholomew, a YTEPP student, was her only child. Primus said she received the tragic news from a friend via the phone. “I thought it was a hoax. It was only when I saw the police’s flashing blue lights and saw the police officer shake his head after viewing her body, I realised that my daughter was gone.”

Primus said her daughter had no enemies, nor was any threat issued to her. “I don’t know how I am going to celebrate this Christmas.” Vera Ruiz, 53, swore her son Eric worked day and night as a farmer to earn an honest living. “We in the dark. We don’t know who kill them or why they would want to do that. I don’t know if it’s envy or what?” an emotional Ruiz said. “You could ask anybody around here, them boys were good fellas.”

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