(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — Despite a police-enforced Red Alert and a mandate for increased police visibility, there were nine murders over the long Easter weekend.
According to media tabulation, the murder toll jumped to 160 after eight people were shot in separate incidents over the past four days.
Five of the victims were shot in one night in four separate incidents between Easter Sunday and Monday.
According to police reports, the incidents occurred in Tunapuna, Santa Cruz, La Horquetta and Laventille.
Two people were shot dead at Morgan Lane, off Pashley Street, Laventille, on Sunday night.
The victims, a man and a woman, were not identified by police up to late yesterday. They were found after a car crashed at the side of the road with the engine still running. The man was slumped over the steering wheel while the woman’s body was on the roadway just outside the passenger’s door. Both bore multiple gunshot injuries, police said.
In another incident, police reported that Khelon “Kokey” McLeod, was shot and killed at the savannah at Achong Trace, Tunapuna on Sunday.
Around that same time, Fabian Thomas was shot and killed in Santa Cruz.
Later that night, at around 2 am, police say 36-year-old Patrick Aaron was shot and killed at Phase 4, La Horquetta.
On Saturday, 28-year-old Mariba Superville was gunned down in Carenage.
Earlier that night, four people were standing at the corner of Queen and Nelson Streets, Port-of-Spain when a gunman opened fire at the group.
The three victims were identified as Javon Assing, Israel Cox and Aria Haynes.
The fourth, Akeem Grant was injured but remained warded in a critical condition up to yesterday.
According to reports, the four victims were standing on the corner around 6.46 pm on Saturday when a vehicle pulled up and the front seat passenger opened fire before escaping on foot.
All four were taken to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital where Assing and Haynes succumbed to their injuries on Saturday.
Police say Cox died at the hospital on Sunday while Grant remains warded at hospital.
On Thursday, the TTPS moved its policing status back to Red Alert saying that alert would remain in place until today.
That Red Alert status came after the TTPS conducted its extensive Operation Strike Back exercises across the nine policing divisions, ahead of the long Easter weekend.
According to a statement from the TTPS, officers arrested 161 persons in connection with various offences, including shooting with intent, possession of firearms and ammunition, narcotics trafficking, housebreaking and larceny during a series of raids.
The exercises which took place from Sunday to Wednesday were led by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith and supervised by ACP Crime and Operations, Regional ACPs and divisional commanders.
In response, Griffith commended his officers for their support of the Red Alert initiative and said that “every single officer” was out during the Easter weekend.
“There is a 10 per cent reduction in homicides and yes that is a turnaround but every time there are two murders in a day we cannot be asking what is happening. It is taking time to put things in place,” Griffith said.
“Had it not been for the Red Alert, who knows what the toll would be,” he said.
Griffith reiterated the need for intelligence-driven policing and said that the entire TTPS is currently undergoing a restructuring to better serve the public.
“We will be able to pinpoint, target and profile the perpetrators,” he said.
Griffith promised to deliver more details on his plans in the coming days.