Trinidad and Tobago lost one of its titans in the legal fraternity early yesterday morning, when 58-year-old senior counsel Dana Seetahal was gunned down in what police investigators have described as a “well-orchestrated hit” in Woodbrook.
According to police reports, around 12.05 a.m. Seetahal was in her Volkswagen SUV, licensed PCN 6, proceeding north along Hamilton Holder Street, Woodbrook, on her way to her One Woodbrook Place home when, near Woodbrook Youth Centre, two vehicles pulled alongside her, causing her to come to an immediate stop.
Within seconds, one of the vehicles, said to be a Nissan Wingroad, drove ahead of the senior counsel’s path and pulled across the roadway, blocking her from moving.
The other vehicle, which was described as a panel van, then moved alongside Seetahal’s car and the occupants of that vehicle drew their automatic weapons and opened fire on the SUV. The two vehicles then sped off.
Residents of the area, on hearing the gunshots, contacted the police and emergency health services.
However, despite their swift response, when the lawmen and medical officers arrived Seetahal was dead—slumped in the driver’s seat with bullet wounds to her head and upper body.
The incident seemed to have happened so fast, police sources said, that Seetahal’s foot was still on the brake-pedal, her hand brake was up, and the vehicle was still idling.
The first responders notified their seniors and a party of officers, including ACP Wayne Dick, Senior Supt Ishmael David, acting ASP Williams, Insp Thomas, Insp Veronique, Insp Lawrence, Insp Rampersad and Cpl Beckles, among others, visited the scene.
Hamilton Holder Street was then cordoned off and only relatives of Seetahal were allowed to come close to the caution tape to see the vehicle.
Crime scene investigators recovered fifteen 5.56 shells at the scene.
Police are currently working on three main theories as a result of this killing. The first, and most prominent, is that because of the nature of the incident it was a “hit” arising out of the senior counsel’s involvement in the Vindra Naipaul-Coolman murder trial.
The second theory is that based on certain information the police received, her killing may have been orchestrated by known criminal elements, and investigators are expected to speak to individuals who are currently in custody, as well as who are under surveillance in areas such as Diego Martin and Central Trinidad, to see if there are any further leads.
The third theory is that she was on her way home after spending some time at a popular members club and there was a potential the incident could be linked to her actions at the business place.
When contacted late yesterday, police sources said, while remote, they still have not ruled it out.
Several members of the legal fraternity, including former justice Larry Lalla and Larry Williams, visited the murder scene and expressed their shock and disbelief over the incident.
A $1 million reward has since been offered by CrimeStoppers for information leading to the arrest and successful conviction of those involved in the murder of the attorney.
In an interview with the media yesterday, ACP Dick revealed the police have gathered footage from various CCTV cameras in the vicinity of the incident, including those from business places and residences, with the hope it would shed further light on the people responsible.
Dick said the police would leave “no stone unturned” and they will be looking into every lead that arises and he gave his assurance that those who orchestrated the senior counsel’s death would be caught.