(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.”