Three high-powered firearms, among them an M16 rifle, the United States’ military select-fire adaptation of the AR-15 rifle, were seized on Thursday during a police exercise in East Port of Spain.
Police sources told the Express yesterday that the M16 rifle which was seized is believed to be the weapon that fired the shot which struck businessman Parmanand “Pancho” Yarna on the right side of his chest on June 13.
Based on the trajectory of the bullet, police said, they determined that the gun which fired the “stray shot” that hit Yarna came from the vicinity of Richard Lane where the rifle was found.
To support their assertion, sources noted that the bullet which hit Yarna was said to be the same 5.56 calibre ammunition that the rifle uses. To confirm this, investigators are expected to send the M16 rifle to the Forensic Science Centre in St James to undergo ballistic testing.
Thursday’s exercise was coordinated by Deputy Commissioner of Police Glenn Hackett, supervised by Assistant Commissioner of Police(ACP) Carlton Alleyne and ACP Stephen Ramsubhag, and coordinated by Senior Superintendent Wayne Boyd, with assistance from Inspector Sahadeo Singh, Inspector Etienne, and Inspector Montrichard, among others.
The exercise took place between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. and involved ground units from the Port of Spain CID, the Inter Agency Task Force, the Canine Unit, the Court and Process Branch, and the Guard and Emergency Branch. The officers made their way through key areas in East Port of Spain including Desperlie Crescent, Laventille Road, St Thomas Street, Richard Lane, and St Paul Street, among others.
Eight persons were held during the exercise for various offences.
Among those who were held were two men on outstanding warrants for narcotics possession, three men for possession of 40 rounds of .40 ammunition and one 19-year-old man who was held with a .38 revolver and five rounds of ammunition.
The officers, acting on information received, also made their way Richard Lane, where they searched a bushy lot of land. In the high grass, the officers found the M16 rifle, a Smith and Wesson .38 revolver, 177 rounds of assorted ammunition, and 50 grammes of marijuana.
As no citizens were near the illegal items when they were discovered, no one was arrested for the find. However, police said they had key information which they believe would lead to imminent arrests.
Speaking to the Express yesterday, ACP Alleyne praised the officers for successfully seizing the firearms and ammunition without any incident.
“These men and women are working in such high risk areas, and are risking life and limb every day in the pursuit of their duties. And you can see exactly how much they are risking when they make finds like this, a M16 rifle just left unattended in East Port of Spain. So I have nothing but praise and words of encouragement for these men and women who,on a daily basis walk through these areas knowing fully what weapons they are against.
“Sometimes we at the T&T Police Service get flack, but people are not aware of the risks that many officers are taking. So I want to commend them for that. The risks they take with their lives, for dedication to their duty and country, to bring a level of safety in the communities they police,” Alleyne said.