While driving on his way to visit relatives in Beverly Hills, Laventille, on Sunday night, a soldier with the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, 32-year-old Lance Corporal Kayode Thomas, was shot dead.
The murder toll for 2014 now totals 213 compared with 185 for the corresponding period last year.
According to police reports, at about 11.30 p.m. on Sunday, Thomas, while off duty, was driving his silver Mazda 323 motor vehicle north along Plaisance Quarry Road, John John, Laventille, when residents of the area heard several loud explosions.
Upon checking they observed that Thomas’ vehicle had crashed along the roadway and that it bore several bullet holes to the front windscreen and bonnet of the car.
The police and emergency health services were notified and a party of officers from the Inter Agency Task Force, led by PC Richardson, responded to the report.
Upon their arrival, they observed the silver car had come to an awkward stop along the roadway.
The engine of the car, police said, was still running and the headlights were on, and when the officers looked inside the car they observed Thomas’ body slumped against the front passenger seat of the vehicle. He was wearing a grey and red vest, with blue denim pants.
It is believed Thomas died of his injuries almost instantly after being shot.
Officials from the Homicide Bureau of Investigations led by Superintendent Boxhill were notified and Crime Scene Investigators visited the scene. Over 30 spent shells were said to have been recovered.
Thomas, police said, was identified by his wife.
A district medical officer also visited the scene and ordered Thomas’ body removed to the Forensic Science Centre in St James.
Speaking to the media yesterday at the Centre, Thomas’ mother Marva was too emotional to speak and could only bring herself to tell reporters that her son was “a good boy who did not deserve to die the way he did.”
Other relatives, who asked not to be identified, said Thomas was a victim of the “ongoing war” in Laventille.
“It is known gangsters who living up there. The police know them, and they know the police, and the other day with the declaration of war against them, they too decided to declare war against the police and soldiers. That is why we think Kayode hadda pay the piper. They knew who he was. It is not like he was doing anything wrong or anything like that. But them gang men knew what he did for a living and he was targeted because of it,” one relative said.
Relatives also noted that Thomas was the father of eight children, the youngest child born merely two weeks ago.
Thomas’ death comes just after one week after the Defence Force issued a press release saying that it was under attack in certain hot spot areas throughout this country, and also raised concerns with the increase in the number of attacks on its members.
The T&T Defence Force, via a press release yesterday, noted that it was deeply saddened by Thomas’ death, and said it also remained committed to working with the TT Police Service and to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice.
In the release, Thomas was described as a “proud and respected member” of the organisation who joined the Defence Force in August, 2004, and served nine distinguished years.
“He completed Basic Recruit Training at Teteron Barracks and was posted to the 1st Infantry Battalion as a Rifle Soldier. The Commanding Officer, Officers, Men and Women of the Regiment extend deepest condolences to the family of the late Lance Corporal Kayode Thomas. May they receive the strength from the Almighty God and the support from relatives and friends during their time of grief,” the release read.
Funeral arrangements for Lance Corporal Thomas will be announced when finalised.
Anyone with information who can assist with investigating this homicide is urged to contact the nearest police station, the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment at 627-2781 or use 800-TIPS.
National Security Minister Gary Griffith said last night if Thomas was killed because of his job, those responsible will feel the full brunt of the law.
Griffith told TV6 News: “I do no intend in any way to accommodate or to bend over to any criminal element in this country and if it is they want a war they would get one. And I would shudder to think that any criminal element would put God past their thoughts in pinpointing law enforcement officers in their criminal activities. If that is the case, then they would be in a war that they cannot win.”