IT was double tragedy for a Morvant family on Sunday night, when its eldest member collapsed and died after learning her 17-year-old great-nephew had been shot and killed about an hour earlier.
Overcome by grief, Marjorie Hutchinson, 65, clutched her chest, collapsed in the arms of her son, Michael Hutchinson, and died before she could be taken to the hospital by paramedics, said relatives.
It was around 9 p.m. that the boy, Akil “Boo Boo” James, an aspiring member of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment, was murdered by gunmen outside a basketball court next to Chinapoo Government Primary School.
His murder proved too much for his great-aunt to bear, as she was still coping with the death of her daughter, Eugina Phillip, and grandson, Abraham Hutchinson, who were both shot and killed last year, said Michael Hutchinson.
Speaking to the Express at their Laventille Road, Chinapoo Village home, Michael said Sunday started off as any regular day, with the family members spending time in the company of each other.
He said around 2 p.m., James told his great-aunt he was going to the basketball court to play a game of football, but she insisted he do his laundry before leaving the house.
“Then Boo Boo just say he going to play football down Chinapoo and disappear. Everything was just normal, everybody was normal. When the (7 p.m.) news was going on, we went and sleep. Around 10 (p.m.), a youth man pass and say they just kill Boo Boo.
“...Same time now my mother telling me, ‘Oh God, meh chest, meh chest hurting me, rub meh chest,’ and I told her everything will be all right, and next thing I know is my mother just cap out (became unconscious) in my arms,” said Michael.
He said before learning that James, a member of the Cadet Force, was killed, the family heard the sound of gunfire but paid it no mind, as this was a somewhat regular occurrence in the area.
Emergency Health Services was called for Marjorie Hutchinson and responded a short time later, but by the time the paramedics placed her in the ambulance and were about to drive off, she had died, Michael said.
He pointed out Marjorie never had a history of suffering from heart disease, but believed she may have suffered a sudden heart attack after learning of the boy’s death.
The great-aunt, he said, shared a close relationship with James, as she took care of him since he was a child, treating him as her own son.
Hutchinson said there was a time when the teenager’s biological mother had placed him in St Dominic’s Home for Boys for a brief period after he “started giving trouble”. “I don’t mean that he used to murder and rob people and so on, but he used to give trouble in the sense that he was always all over the place. Whenever you looking for him, you can’t find him.
“His mother said she could not deal with him, so we told her to send him back here and we will deal with him,” said Hutchinson.
James’s body was found by officers of the North Eastern Division Task Force lying next to the basketball court, minutes after he was shot, when they responded to a report of shooting in the area.
Police said James was hit several times about the upper body and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigating officers said they did not have a motive for the boy’s killing, confirming he was not known to be involved in criminal activities.
It was also unclear from where the gunmen emerged before carrying out the murder, or by what means they escaped, said police.
Several bullet casings were found at the scene by homicide detectives. The yellow caution tape used to cordon off the area was still in place when the Express visited yesterday afternoon.
Both bodies were taken to Forensic Science Centre, Federation Park, St James, where autopsies will be carried out this morning.
Homicide officers are continuing enquiries into the murder.
James’s death has carried the murder toll for the year so far to 135, according to an Express tally.