(Trinidad Guardian) Hours af­ter armed po­lice of­fi­cers were called in to pre­vent gang vi­o­lence from erupt­ing at the Nel­son Street, Port-of-Spain hous­ing de­vel­op­ment, res­i­dents said they were fear­ful they may now be­come tar­gets of the war­ring gangs.

The fear was ex­pressed on Friday by many res­i­dents who re­fused to re­veal their iden­ti­ties to Guardian Me­dia Ltd, fol­low­ing Thurs­day’s night shoot­ing in the com­mu­ni­ty which sur­faced on so­cial me­dia and which led to the ar­rest of some 30 Mus­lim gang mem­bers.

In an in­ter­view on Nel­son Street, a group of men, who de­scribed them­selves as Mus­lims, claimed the incident was trig­gered by Ras­ta City mem­bers – some of whom were women – as they tried to take control of their two and three-bed­room apart­ments. The in­ci­dent re­sult­ed in a high vis­i­bil­i­ty of po­lice of­fi­cers on Nel­son, Dun­can, Duke and Char­lotte Streets on Friday.

Hud­dled in a group, the Mus­lim men com­plained that the front door to an apart­ment was smashed in by Ras­ta City mem­bers as they tried to gain en­try.

“Them (Ras­ta City) men and them say­ing they from here but they not from here. They liv­ing at Man­go Rose and Jack­son Hill and try­ing to run peo­ple from here…to take over our com­mu­ni­ty. That not go­ing to work as long as we here. We had to stand up against them,” said one male res­i­dent who did not reveal his iden­ti­ty.

That was when the po­lice were called in, they said. How­ev­er, when the po­lice ar­rived and re­alised the ten­sion be­tween the gang mem­bers, they be­gan fir­ing shots in­to the air to dis­perse the un­ruly gangsters.

“We ain’t fraid noth­ing. The on­ly per­son we fear is Al­lah. They are try­ing to come here and run out men, rob peo­ple of their gold chains and sell their co­caine and il­le­gal thing. They are Zessers. We not on any war,” an­oth­er Mus­lim man in­ter­ject­ed.

Col­lec­tive­ly, the Mus­lims is­sued a strong warn­ing to the Ras­ta City mem­bers to keep their dis­tance, saying if they in­vade their ter­ri­to­ry again, they will re­tal­i­ate. The men, how­ev­er, said they are will­ing to speak with Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith on the is­sue be­cause things were get­ting out of hand.

Asked if they were in­volved in il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties, one man replied, “The re­al­i­ty of life is that every­where them things does be go­ing on…even in these gat­ed com­mu­ni­ties with these high pro­file peo­ple. Where you think the lit­tle scrumbs does get it from?”

Nuts ven­dor An­dre Gilkes, who re­sides in an apart­ment in the Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion plannings, plead­ed for the war and sense­less killings to end.

“They just want to kill in this war thing. We can’t walk the streets in peace no more,” Gilkes said. Hav­ing lived in the com­mu­ni­ty for some 18 years, Gilkes said he has grown ac­cus­tomed to hear­ing rapid gun­fire. “Is the norm. What­ev­er hap­pens, I want it to end in peace be­cause at the end of the day is we who are dy­ing.”

He could not give a rea­son be­hind the on­go­ing war be­tween the Ras­ta City and Mus­lims gangs.

A stone’s throw away, 90-year-old shop­keep­er, Tony, said the shoot­ing was the worst he had experienced in years.

“I stop sleep­ing on my bed be­cause bul­lets have no eyes. I does sleep on the floor to safe­guard my­self. I not go­ing to take any chances here to­day. I go­ing to close up my shop and go in­side be­cause I don’t like what I see play­ing out,” Tony said, clutch­ing his chest.

A fe­male cus­tomer in Tony’s shop said the po­lice need to flush out the guns that have been cir­cu­lat­ing in the com­mu­ni­ty.

“It have too many guns. Where is it com­ing from? All the law-abid­ing cit­i­zens up here un­easy be­cause you don’t know when these gangs will start fir­ing at each oth­er….there­by killing in­no­cent peo­ple in the process.

“We have been liv­ing in fear for far too long. The on­ly prob­lem is the fear is in­ten­si­fy­ing with each passing day.”

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