(Trinidad Guardian) Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is describing last Sunday’s triple murder on the Boardwalk in Chaguaramas as an act of “terrorism” and he is appealing to communities and citizens that if they know of people who are “arming themselves to let somebody know.”
Last Sunday, Fabien Williams, Andrew Francis and Kadel Osbourne were shot dead on the Boardwalk, while eight-year-old Jakeem Moses, Keron Jones and Ian Brown were injured when gunmen sprayed bullets into a crowd as they targeted Williams.
Yesterday, Rowley extended his sympathy to “all families that have experienced the effect of this tragedy.” But he also expressed concern that persons “must know somewhere who is armed, who is doing this and in defence of the community and the country, we need to let the authorities know who is doing this, so that some kind of response, an appropriate response, can take place.”
He said it was “wholly unacceptable that this type of, and I want to use the word terrorism, could take place and to date no one is held accountable.”
Speaking on a radio programme yesterday, Rowley described the incident as “an attack on people relaxing in an environment where they are supposed to be safe.”
He said Government had been making “a lot of efforts around the country to bring back a sense of safety, but you make one step forward and there are people taking us two or three steps backwards.”
He appealed to those who know what is happening to speak out.
“There are members of families who know what is going on and are protecting these people and are putting the rest of the nation and other families at risk,” he said.
“There are people all over the country who are taking it upon themselves to be and to carry out cold-blooded killing and they are doing so under the understanding that nobody else will point them out or identify them as carrying guns and endangering the rest of the nation.”
Contacted yesterday on the issue, Tabaquite MP Dr Surujrattan Rambachan also expressed concerns about the Boardwalk shootings.
“You cannot tell me that one way in and one way out and you have the Chaguaramas police and the Carenage police and those people were allowed to get away like that,” Rambachan told the T&T Guardian.
He said the actions of the criminals indicate that they “have no respect or fear for the authorities in this country.”
This, he said, had to do with “the manner in which the Police Service is being led, it has to do with the state of the judiciary and the fact that the major institutions for law and order have broken down in this country or have lost integrity and respect. I make no bones in saying that it started from the Chief Justice come right down.”
Political commentator Ralph Maraj meanwhile said the crime situation “has escalated to frightening and unacceptable levels.”
He was of the view the time had come for Government to take the bull by the horns and revisit its previous positions and move with urgency to “declare a state of emergency. The Defence Force must be deployed. The peace must be re-established.”
Maraj is also suggesting that Government and the Opposition get together on the issue of crime “to amend the existing laws to allow the Defence Force to participate with the police in crime detection and detention and the powers of arrest.”
Such an initiative, he said, will allow the time and the space needed “to re-modernise the Police Service for greater effectiveness.”
If the Government does not make the first move he suggests that the “Opposition must call on the Government and make itself available.”
He said the Boardwalk shootings should tell Government “that something is fundamentally wrong. This is a war that the criminals have started and we must have unusual strategies.”
He said Government may also want to consider imposing a curfew in particular areas but said “winning the peace is critical.”