(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