Questions over shooting death of Trinidad security firm boss

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Questions over shooting death of Trinidad security firm boss
Richard Edwards
Richard Edwards

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — How could Richard “Mus­cle” Ed­wards, a man with at least 25 years train­ing in the De­fence Force, point a weapon to his head with a round cham­bered and squeeze the trig­ger?

Or was it a case of him clean­ing his weapon while in an in­tox­i­cat­ed state?

Or did Ed­wards die in some oth­er man­ner and the oth­er ver­sions were mere­ly a di­ver­sion?

High-rank­ing in­tel­li­gence sources and those fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion told the Sun­day Guardian that the two ver­sions of the sto­ry that they have been giv­en are “dis­con­nect­ed and filled with gaps”.

The first ver­sion that has been re­port­ed on so­cial me­dia stat­ed that the 50-year-old for­mer chief pet­ty of­fi­cer of the T&T Coast Guard (TTCG) shot and killed him­self on Fri­day around 9 pm, af­ter dis­charg­ing his firearm dur­ing a demon­stra­tion at his com­pa­ny’s com­pound in Cou­va be­hind the Uni­ver­si­ty of Trinidad and To­ba­go (UTT). Ed­wards was the own­er of Multi­na­tion­al Spe­cial­ist Net­work, an ex­ec­u­tive se­cu­ri­ty com­pa­ny based in Cou­va.

This ver­sion of the sto­ry in­di­cat­ed that Ed­wards was speak­ing to em­ploy­ees on the prop­er meth­ods of load­ing and un­load­ing a firearm when the in­ci­dent sup­pos­ed­ly hap­pened.

Ed­wards re­port­ed­ly took out his per­son­al firearm for the demon­stra­tion and in an ap­par­ent at­tempt to show the au­di­ence that the weapon could not fire in the po­si­tion it was be­ing held, he re­port­ed­ly placed the 9mm gun to his fore­head and squeezed the trig­ger.

But re­li­able po­lice sources said there was a sec­ond ver­sion of the sto­ry that came down the pipeline. One source in­formed the Sun­day Guardian that they were told Ed­wards was in an in­tox­i­cat­ed state and was clean­ing his firearm when it went off, hit­ting him in the head.

But ei­ther sce­nario, ac­cord­ing to in­tel­li­gence and po­lice sources, sounds “un­re­al­is­tic and far-fetched”. The fam­i­ly is al­so hav­ing a hard time buy­ing ei­ther sto­ry, the Sun­day Guardian un­der­stands.

Mys­tar: We are try­ing to get to the truth

Su­per­in­ten­dent of the Cen­tral Di­vi­sion Wayne Mys­tar con­firmed that the po­lice are try­ing to get to the truth.

“We have some ver­sions and we are try­ing to as­cer­tain ex­act­ly what hap­pened. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is at a sen­si­tive stage and we have at least ten per­sons we are in­ter­view­ing,” said Mys­tar.

In fact, Mys­tar ex­plained that they have re­ceived sev­er­al calls from Ed­wards’ col­leagues say­ing he was a “trained pro­fes­sion­al” and they were hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ty ac­cept­ing the way he pos­si­bly died.

“Who ex­act­ly fed the in­for­ma­tion about Ed­wards demon­strat­ing how to use a firearm at his com­pound in Cou­va last night (Fri­day) in front of em­ploy­ees?

“It seems to be far dif­fer­ent from what we are hear­ing,” one po­lice source said.

“When you are clean­ing a weapon, ba­sic mil­i­tary prin­ci­ple dic­tates you re­move your mag­a­zine and make sure the breach is cleared of any rounds, you strip down your weapon, clean it and mount it back up,” said a mil­i­tary source who knew Ed­wards for over 20 years.

“There is no mag­a­zine in play here. How can one shoot him­self when he went through all the prin­ci­ples? Was there some­one there with him?”

Ed­wards, 50, Sun­day Guardian was re­li­ably in­formed, was one of the peo­ple un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for the shoot­ing of Dil­lian John­son out­side his Gas­par­il­lo home on De­cem­ber 3, 2017. John­son sur­vived the at­tack and fled to the Unit­ed King­dom where he was lat­er grant­ed hu­man­i­tar­i­an pro­tec­tion.

In Jan­u­ary, Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith con­firmed to Guardian Me­dia that the An­ti-Cor­rup­tion In­tel­li­gence Bu­reau (ACIB) were “in­ten­sive­ly pur­su­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion” and he could make no fur­ther com­ment.

Sources said then that a po­lice of­fi­cer, a for­mer se­cu­ri­ty head, and a sol­dier—whom we can now say was Ed­wards­—was ex­pect­ed to be ques­tioned by the ACIB in re­la­tion to John­son’s shoot­ing af­ter fresh ev­i­dence emerged back in Jan­u­ary.

Ed­wards was the sol­dier that John­son iden­ti­fied in his 18-page state­ment to po­lice back in De­cem­ber 2017. John­son had told in­ves­ti­ga­tors then that he had cloned Ed­wards’ phone and un­cov­ered a se­ries of What­sApp con­ver­sa­tions be­tween Ed­wards, a high-rank­ing ju­di­cial of­fi­cer, and peo­ple in charge of ju­di­cia­ry se­cu­ri­ty

In Jan­u­ary, Ed­wards was al­so iden­ti­fied by a woman (name with­held) in a sworn statu­to­ry de­c­la­ra­tion in which she fin­gered Ed­wards. He had ap­proached her and asked her to point out the house where John­son lived in Gas­par­il­lo. A few days lat­er, John­son was shot out­side his home.

Sources said that Ed­wards start­ed work­ing at the T&T Coast Guard in 1994 and left there at the manda­to­ry re­tire­ment age of 47 years.

“He won a lo­cal Iron Man com­pe­ti­tion in the De­fence Force in 1996 and a for­mer brigadier had sent him to work at the then Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Group (SOG).

“But he did not make the grade and he was asked to leave al­most im­me­di­ate­ly,” ex­plained an in­tel­li­gence source.

The SOG was dis­band­ed in 1998.

The in­tel­li­gence source ex­plained that Ed­wards seemed to have been well con­nect­ed and was hired by a for­mer po­lice com­mis­sion­er to be part of a spe­cial unit who would kick in the doors of peo­ple’s homes.

“But he was re­al­ly con­nect­ed be­cause he was do­ing this even though he was still em­ployed in the Trinidad and To­ba­go Coast Guard. But I can as­sure you he was nev­er a spe­cial forces sol­dier as he claimed,” ex­plained the in­tel­li­gence source.

When Ed­wards left the TTCG, he opened his ex­ec­u­tive se­cu­ri­ty busi­ness and had sev­er­al high-end clients.

Rel­a­tives dis­sat­is­fied with ex­pla­na­tion

Dis­sat­is­fied with the ex­pla­na­tion that high­ly trained for­mer Coast Guard of­fi­cer Richard Ed­wards ac­ci­den­tal­ly shot him­self, his fam­i­ly and friends are hop­ing that CCTV footage from his Multi­na­tion­al Spe­cial­ist Net­work com­pa­ny will bring clar­i­ty.

Ed­wards, 50, who re­tired from the De­fence Force in 2017, died at the Cou­va Dis­trict Health Fa­cil­i­ty on Fri­day night. Re­ports stat­ed that he al­leged­ly shot him­self in the face with a .9mm hand­gun which he was us­ing to train se­cu­ri­ty per­son­nel at his com­pa­ny in Point Lisas on Fri­day. —Kevon Felmine

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