Sunday, December 17, 2017

Shooting spree in Laventille

4 gunmen injure boy, 3, woman

For the second time in 24-hours, gang violence in Laventille has resulted in a young child being shot — and this time the victim was a three-year-old boy.

Police reported that at about 8.15 p.m. on Sunday, a group of men, women, and children, were gathered in the yard of a home at Morvant Old Road, Laventille, when they were approached by four men. The men, police said, were armed with handheld guns and were looking for someone when they came across the group. The men ordered the group of parents and children to the ground, before opening fire in the general direction of the person they were looking for, leaving fathers, mothers, and toddlers scampering for safety.

After the gunfire, the four assailants fled the scene, then it was the heartbreaking cries of three-year-old Gabriel Cuffie, and 24-year-old mother of one Nisha Vincent. Baby Gabriel, police said, had been shot in his left arm and shoulder, while Vincent, had been shot in her upper back with the bullet exiting through her chest.

The police and emergency health services were notified, and a party of officers from the Morvant Police Station and the Besson Street Police Station responded. The two injured parties were rushed to the Port of Spain General Hospital where they were both treated.

Baby Gabriel was eventually transferred to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex where he remained warded up to late yesterday. Vincent was said to have been stabilised as of yesterday morning, however, police sources noted that her condition would be closely monitored as she has surgery to undergo as a result of her injuries.

Crime scene investigators visited the scene yesterday, and over 30 spent shells were recovered.

When Express visited the scene of the shootings yesterday afternoon, residents of the area called on the police to increase patrols in the area.

“This place just gone to the dogs yes. You mean to tell me that people were in a yard with their children, liming and relaxing, and you run up in the place and just spray the area with bullets? What kind of madness is that? You could have killed any one of those children, and for what? Some man you looking for? Those babies have nothing to do with whatever you doing, so why spray down the place so? What those children do big men like that so, that they think they have to shoot them? As it is, one of the children got shot in their hand, and we have to be thanking God right now that it’s nothing more serious than that,” explained one female resident.

Baby Gabriel’s mother, 38-year-old Luanne Cuffie, told the media yesterday that she was in a state of shock over the incident and she refused to leave her youngest son’s bedside. She explained that while she had five other children — the oldest, 22, she had never experienced anything similar to Sunday night’s shooting spree.

“When the whole thing went down, I was in the bathroom of the house and out of the blue I heard a set of gunshots. I grabbed a towel and run outside and I saw my eight-year-old son (Jeremiah) holding his brother’s hand (Gabriel) asking out-loud, ‘where mommy? where mommy?’ I then see these men with guns in their hands shooting in their direction, so I grabbed the two of them and run away from the chaos and outside to the roadway. The whole while them men continue shooting at somebody they were looking for. Eventually they leave the scene still looking for their target. I heard Gabriel crying but at first I thought he was just scared. It was only when I looked down, I realise he was bleeding. So I start to bawl too, and we organise to take him to the hospital,” Cuffie explained.

She no longer feels safe in the house and would seek to move out of the area, she added.

Nisha Vincent’s mother, Martha, told the Express yesterday that she was worried about her daughter, and she was keeping her in her prayers hoping that she would recover swiftly. She said that Nisha had gone around the corner with her four-year-old son Josiah to lime with some friends shortly before the incident happened.

“Next thing you know we hearing gunshots, so we rush over there because we know she was with her son. They rushed her to the hospital and we took Josiah. If you watch him now he looking fine, because he doesn’t understand exactly what happened, but if you asked him about last night, he would say, ‘gunmen shoot mommy and me and we fall down.’ All I can say is that we are so thankful that he wasn’t hurt too, especially since we heard about another young child being injured. But at the same time, we are just saying a prayer for Nisha to get better,” Martha said.

Senior Superintendent of the Port of Spain Division Cyril Harry said as a result of the shooting incidents in Laventille over the weekend, the police will be increasing patrols in the areas.

“These incidents will not be tolerated, and I can assure you that the police are continuing their investigations vigorously into these reports with the purpose of identifying the perpetrators of these crimes. As a result of this, we are also calling on residents to assist the police in identifying the persons responsible. But in the interim, based on discussions that we had this morning (Monday) I can inform you that there will be increased patrols and police presence in Laventille. We are going to be putting special focus on them, to minimalise any repeats of the incidents over the weekend,” Harry said.

Acting Cpl Narine is continuing enquiries.

Meanwhile, on Saturday afternoon, a shootout between warring gangs at Block 22, Laventille, left three persons, including an eight-year-old boy, injured.

Michael Singh, 26, was shot in his right shoulder and abdomen; Latisha Lewis, 22, was shot in her lower back; and eight-year-old Brent Bonaparte received a gunshot injury to his shoulder. 

All three victims were from Building Three, Block 22, Laventille. Singh and Lewis were kept overnight at the Port of Spain General Hospital, while the eight-year-old boy was treated and discharged that same evening.

Investigations are continuing.