THICK, black smoke emanated from several spots in Diego Martin yesterday as residents squared off with police officers accusing them of opening fire on a schoolboy.
The residents blocked the corner of Diego Martin Main Road and Bagatelle Road and set fire to tyres and other debris calling for justice in the shooting of 14-year-old Hakeem Cabrera.
Yesterday's fiery protest action comes on the heels of the shooting death of Mt D'Or Road resident, Atiba Duncan, who was shot once in the back by police several weeks ago near his home.
Duncan's killing is being probed by ASP Gary Edwards and monitored by ACP Raymond Craig of the Professional Standards Bureau.
Cabrera, a pupil of the Mucurapo West Secondary School, up to late yesterday remained warded in satisfactory condition at the Port of Spain General Hospital. He was shot in the buttocks and leg, police said, and his injuries are not life-threatening.
Police have however disputed the claim made by the residents. Officers said they responded to a report of a shooting and found Cabrera lying near a drain with bullet injuries about the body.
He was taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital where he was treated and warded. Police said they have spoken to Cabrera who told them he wasn't sure who shot at him.
Officers have also denied that an officer, who residents identified as the person who shot Cabrera, works within the Western Division. They said he works within the Port of Spain Division.
They said members of the Crime Scene Unit processed the scene of the shooting and recovered five spent shells. The residents also claimed they too recovered spent shells from the scene.
Detectives from the Professional Standards Unit visited the victim at hospital and spoke with him.
But scores of irate residents maintained it was police who opened fire on Cabrera and some of his friends, minutes after the victim celebrated his 14th birthday.
Cabrera's aunt, Lucilla Long, said after the vehicle pulled up, the occupants ordered Cabrera and his friends to get off the streets and head to their homes.
The victim was told to run and shots were fired at him by one of the occupants who is a police officer known to the villagers.
"Today is he birthday and that is the gift he get from the police. Look at how they shoot up my nephew house, too. Look at bullet holes them police leave in the wall here when they shot innocently at the boy," Long said as she took the media on a tour where the incident occurred.
The residents blocked several areas along Savannah Trace #1, where the shooting occurred.
Shortly after 1 p.m., they decided to block the Diego Martin Main Road and set fire to tyres and debris.
Officers from the Guard and Emergency Branch and the Western Division Task Force returned to the scene and squared off with the villagers who were calling for the officer who shot Cabrera to be handed over to them.
"All yuh come in the Gaza and make that mistake. All yuh should of never do that," a woman shouted at the police.
"This is a final warning. Please deist from throwing debris and blocking the roadway. Once you are identified you will be arrested. this is your final warning," a policeman repeated through the intercom in one of the police vehicles.
His pleas were however booed by the villagers who maintained they would continue their demonstration until justice is served in the matter.
"Bring officer (named) let we burn him in the fire," the villagers chanted and heavily armed officers closed in on them.
As fire officers extinguished the blaze and cleared the roadway, under the watchful eyes of several policemen, residents poked fun at them.